CDC warns of rise of ‘superbugs’ in hospitals

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LA MESA, Calif. – The Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning about a family of bacteria that is plaguing hospitals across the country including San Diego.

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The head of the CDC said the carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), also called the “superbug” bacteria, is a nightmare.  It’s considered a triple threat as it’s invincibility to antibiotics, deadly in half the cases reported and it can spread to other bacteria rendering them resistant as well.

Dr. Fadi Haddad, M.D. of Sharp Grossmont Hospital said they’ve seen the “superbug” in about one to two cases a month.

“One – we don’t have antibiotics to treat this. Second is this infection can be fatal in 50 percent of patients,” Dr. Haddad said. “This bacteria can spread.”

Those most at risk are the elderly in long-term care, children and people with immune deficiencies or anyone who have had long term exposure to antibiotics.

Dr. Haddad said part of the solution for doctors is to be more strict in the way they prescribe antibiotics and unless absolutely necessary not prescribe broad-spectrum antibiotics.

“The side effect of antibiotics is basically changing our own normal flora to resistant bacteria that we cannot treat in the future,” Dr. Haddad said.

To protect yourself doctors recommend:

  • Be proactive – insist that medical personnel wash their hands before touching you or a loved one.
  • Doctors should only prescribe targeted antibiotics when they are truly needed.
  • And if you must have a catheter or anything intravenous, make sure it’s removed as quickly as possible.

“This can serve as port of entry and the bacteria can go into the bloodstream and that can be deadly,” Dr. Haddad said regarding the catheters.

According to the CDC, cases of CRE have jumped dramatically in the last decade, but it has yet to be found outside of hospitals.

“Hopefully, if we stay on this route we will be ahead of the game and we won’t have an outbreak in Southern California,” he said.

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