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'Nightmare Bacteria' Spreads Fear in US Hospitals

Jan 19, 2017 11:36 AM EST

According to a new research recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a superbug resistant to almost all antibiotics is spreading stealthily through hospitals.

For the research, the team of researchers from Harvard Chan School looked at about 250 samples of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), from hospitalized patients from three Boston-area hospitals and from one California hospital. Results showed that CRE which can cause severe and deadly infections are more diverse than previously thought. The CRE species are so many that the researchers called it a "riot of diversity."

In addition, the result also suggests that the CRE is more widespread that previously thought and it is spreading at a faster rate. In fact, it may well be transmitting from person to person asymptomatically, to avoid our normal 'surveillance' methods. As such, the CRE may also be able to survive and thrive not just in the borders of a healthcare setting, but as well as the outside communities.

"While the typical focus has been on treating sick patients with CRE-related infections, our new findings suggest that CRE is spreading beyond the obvious cases of disease. We need to look harder for this unobserved transmission within our communities and healthcare facilities if we want to stamp it out," said William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard Chan School and senior author of the study, in a statement.

Just last week a woman from Nevada died with a CRE strain resistant to all 26 different antibiotics available in U.S.

Herald Sun reported that CRE, also called "nightmare bacteria," are a class of bacteria resistant to multiple antibiotics, including carbapenems, which are considered last-resort drugs when other antibiotics have failed.

Enterobacteriaceae are a large-family of bacteria that include bugs such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Shigella -all of which are common causes of food poisoning and stomach bugs, Science Alert explained.

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