"Nightmare" superbug believed to no longer be confined to health care facilities

Dec 22, 2016

Medical illustration of CRE (carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae).
Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

What has been referred to in the past few years as a “Nightmare” superbug, which up until now has been confined to hospitals, may have spread outside of health care facilities.

As the Huffington Post reports, six people in Colorado recently became infected with the superbug known as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacterlaceae, or CRE, a bacterial infection that is difficult to treat because of its resistance to powerful antibiotics.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, healthy people do not usually get CRE infections – they usually happen in health care facilities, effecting patients whose care includes use of devices such as ventilators, urinary catheters, intravenous catheters, and patients who are taking long courses of certain antibiotics.

According to the Huffington Post, the six people in Colorado who contracted the infection, which can be found in human guts but can also enter the bloodstream, had not stayed in a health care facility for at least a year before they contracted the infection, had not undergone any kinds of surgical procedures, and had not received any care requiring use of the invasive devises, as listed above. So the six patients appear to have picked up the bacteria from somewhere outside of a health care setting.

All six had been diagnosed with urinary tract infections, the Huffington Post reports. Their cases were discovered from 2014 to 2016 and all of the patients survived.

The CDC also reports that the disease is associated with high morbidity and mortality, killing up to 50 percent of infected patients and that there are limited treatment options, as well as potential for rapid spread among patients. This is why CRE has been called the “nightmare” superbug.To prevent CRE and other infections, people should wash their hands frequently and take antibiotics only when they are prescribed, the