What You Should Know About the ‘Superbug’

MANHASSET, NY -- More than 170 people were exposed to a new outbreak of a “superbug” in California due to improperly sterilized endoscopic equipment, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The superbug in question, Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), is worrisome because it is resistant to many forms of treatment. In particular, CRE can withstand the heavy-hitting carbapenem group of antibiotics, which are reserved for the most serious bacterial infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites a report that CREs can have a nearly 50 percent mortality rate.

While dangerous, are CREs something the public should fear?

 “I think the name ‘superbug’ is really a media hype, and not a real reflection of the microbiology,” said Bruce Farber, MD, chief of infectious diseases at the North Shore-LIJ Health System.  “But nevertheless, CREs are a serious concern for people in the hospital who are sick. We monitor closely for them. They’re a significant, growing problem across the United States. They started in Asia and have spread all over the United States, but they’re much worse in other parts of the world."

Dr. Farber said to combat CREs, medical facilities need to make sure that all instruments are properly cleaned before they are sterilized. At home, people can make sure they only take antibiotics when absolutely necessary to prevent your body from building up immunity to these bacteria.

“I think CREs are something that we need to keep track of but there are better microbial therapies coming in the future to handle these difficult organisms,” Dr. Farber said.

Topics: News

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