Published: Thu, April 05, 2018
Medicine | By Daryl Nelson

Antibiotic-resistant 'nightmare bacteria' growing threat in the US, CDC warns

Antibiotic-resistant 'nightmare bacteria' growing threat in the US, CDC warns

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention detected more than 220 cases past year of a rare breed of "nightmare bacteria" that are virtually untreatable and capable of spreading genes that make them impervious to most antibiotics, according to a report released Tuesday.

"Unusual resistance germs, which are resistant to all or most antibiotics tested and are uncommon or carry special resistance genes, are constantly developing and spreading", the CDC team writes for their in-house journal, Vital Signs.

"The hard truth is that as fast as we have run to slow resistance, some germs have outpaced us", said Anne Schuchat, M.D., the CDC's principal deputy director, in a press briefing Tuesday.

Antibiotic-resistant germs kill over 23,000 Americans a year, according to NBC News.

Scientists are especially focused on highly lethal antibiotic-resistant bugs called carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, which has been dubbed "nightmare" bacteria.

The report, issued today, is the first of its kind, drawing on information gathered by the CDC's Antibiotic Resistance Lab Network, which was established in 2016 and consists of at least one lab in each state, seven regional labs and the National Tuberculosis Molecular Surveillance Center.

The CDC has warned the public about a new breed of nightmare bacteria that is resistant to nearly all antibiotics. Recent, nationwide infrastructure investments in laboratories, infection control, and response are enabling tailored, rapid, and aggressive investigations to keep resistance from spreading in health care settings.

Health officials say these new bacteria must be contained quickly, lest they share their antibiotic-resistance genetics with other potentially more unsafe germs.

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Not only that, but in facilities that had these bacteria with unusual genes, about 1 in 10 symptomless people who were screened had at least one resistant bug.

Moreover, the CDC stresses that "stopping new resistance from developing is not now possible".

"It's reassuring to see that state and local experts, using our containment strategy, identified and stopped these resistant bacteria before they had the opportunity to spread", Schuchat said.

Make sure all health care facilities know what state and local lab support is available and what isolates (pure samples of a germ) to send for testing.

Antibiotic resistance threats vary greatly nationwide, but instances of resistance have been reported in every US state, according to the CDC.

Inform your health care provider if you recently received health care in another country or facility. The investigation revealed that the germ may have spread to five additional people, so the facility took contact precautions such as wearing gloves and gowns, as well as infection control methods, to help stop the spread.

According to the CDC's assessment, the containment strategy has helped to reduce cases of two types of resistant infections since 2006.

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