CRE or carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae is a family of germs that is incredibly resistant to most types of antibiotics. The bacteria are potentially lethal, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they can contribute to death in up to 50% of patients who become infected.
Worryingly, CRE infections have increased seven-fold in the past 10 years. They are appearing in more and more acute and long-term-care facilities throughout the United States, primarily affecting those who are already afflicted with other ailments. The CDC says that those at highest risk are patients using breathing machines, urinary catheters or intravenous catheters. Those who are taking long courses of certain antibiotics are also among those most at risk for CRE infections.
In a recent article published by McNight’s, a leading long-term care news outlet, editors addressed the heavy responsibility that is held by long-term health care providers who must work diligently to prevent the spread of these germs. These care providers are faced with the overwhelming challenge of battling the bacteria, which is often resistant to “last-resort” antibiotics.
Arjun Srinivasan, M.D., an associate director in the CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, said in the McNight’s article that CRE infections could be “the beginning of the end of antibiotics.”
To protect hospital patients and nursing home residents from becoming infected, health care providers will first need to adopt CRE control initiatives. To take the first step, the CDC has created a CRE toolkit with guidelines for nursing homes to use, which has proven beneficial when preventing transmission. To truly make a difference, however, the CDC suggests a coordinated effort that will not only involve care providers, but policymakers and the general public as well.