This cold and flu season has been a doozy for many. Seems like just when you're sure you've kicked one bug, another is just around the bend. Now, the government is warning that there's a slight chance the next one could be potentially deadly. Government health officials have taken action today due to a sharp jump in the number of rare, possibly fatal types of a superbug that is resistant to nearly all "last-resort" antibiotics. They've issued warnings for hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care settings.
The dangerous bacteria is called CRE -- Carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae, named for its ability to elude super-strong carbapenem antibiotics. What's more, researchers recently discovered it can take more than a year before carriers of the bug test negative for it, making it more difficult to control and raising the risk of wider spread. And according to the CDC, reports of unusual forms of CRE have nearly doubled in the U.S. Talk about unnerving.
CRE infections' mortality can be up to 40 percent, which is much higher than other health care infections, such as those caused by MRSA or C. difficile.
Nonetheless, it bears noting that CREs tend to strike people who are already ill and require devices such as ventilators or catheters or who have been taking antibiotics for a long time. So, yes, they are rare ... But they can occur in any patient. That said, the whole mess really raises the issue of antibiotic overuse. Got a sniffle? Take a Z-Pak. Want some chicken? Never mind the antibiotics and hormones galore! Unfortunately, we don't think much of things like that at the time, but news of a resistant superbug spread should serve as a wake-up call.
For now, though, CDC officials say they hope simply increasing our awareness of the growing problem can prevent it from getting out of control. Let's hope so too.
How do you feel about these superbugs becoming more common? Do you blame antibiotic overuse?
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