Resistant C.R.E. bacteria could cause pandemic

Savanna Gharibian

(April 2, 2013) — Imagine a bacteria resistant to all of the strongest antibiotics and the most potent drugs. That’s basically what the carbapenemresistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) is. It is known as the “nightmare bacteria” because of its capability to be highly resistant to antibiotics. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the CRE infection rate tripled, from 1.2 to 4.2 percent during the last decade. A CDC survey reported that in 2012 acute-care hospitals reported one in twenty people having a CRE infection every six months. According to the CDC , the bacteria kill up to half of their victims, and as a precaution, the CDC has warned hospitals about this deadly bacteria. Why is the “nightmare bacteria” so resistant to antibiotics? The reason behind its resistance is that it evolved over time. Over time infections become more difficult to cure, and this CRE has done so, leaving scientists and healthcare professionals very concerned. The use of current antibiotics has led to these drug-resistant bacteria. Biology teacher Virginia Benzer says that this is like a “co-evolution,” meaning bacteria learn to resist antibiotics. Each use of antibiotics allows bacteria to evolve and each time a drug is used unnecessarily, the problem escalates. “In today’s society, we don’t have time to get sick, and that’s why rely on antibiotics, which ultimately lead to antibiotic-resistant bacteria,” said Benzer. “It’s a vicious cycle.” Fortunately, the CRE are not yet prevalent in the community; as of now, only hospitals are facing the challenge of preventing the CRE from spreading among their patients. However, the frightening part of this whole scenario is that the CRE will make their way into the community, making way for a medical catastrophe. An example of an antibiotic resistant bacteria that spread to the community years ago is the Methicillin-resistant Stphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Similarly, hospitals were warned, and despite precautions, it spread to the community. If hospitals fail at containing the CRE, it will also make its way into the community. Another frightening example is the spread of the drug-resistant Klebsiella bacteria in 2011. The bacteria infected 18 people at the National Institutes of Health hospital in Bethesda, MD, one of the nation’s top-ranking hospitals. Seven out of the eighteen infected died of the infection. This shows that even the most prestigious places cannot easily tame drug-resistant bacteria. If the CRE leaks out into the community, treating and containing it will be a major issue. CRE spread very fast, considering they are resistant and can be acquired very easily. This bacteria can be transmitted through merely physical contact and infected equipment. That is why hospitals are being urged to take certain precautions. The name says it all. If this “nightmare bacteria” makes its way out of the realms of hospitals, there will be a health disaster.