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On the CRE 'superbug,' and why it is so scary

If we were to ask you what carbapenem-resistent Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) means, you would probably say "why did you just blindly type letters like that?" It's understandable to look at that phrase and immediately scoff, as it seems impossible to pronounce while also seemingly being something that isn't of consequence. However, CRE bacterial infections are the germs that news stations refer to when they say "superbugs."

CRE bacterial infections are incredibly difficult to treat, if they can be treated at all. CRE bacteria have developed an astonishing resistance to antibiotics, and it is -- or at least it should be -- a high priority for hospitals, medical professionals and the medical field in general to make sure their facilities are clean and sanitary so that these bacteria don't fester. 

What makes CRE so scary is that part of it's name, carbapenem, refers to an incredibly powerful antibiotic that is often called the "big gun." It is a last resort, an "ace in the hole" if you will. And yet this bacteria is unfazed by the introduction of carbapenem.

A new report from the ECRI Institute continues these troubling feelings. Apparently numerous hospitals in recent years have experience CRE outbreaks do to using duodenoscopes, which are medical tools used to treat and diagnose a variety of matters involving the gall bladder and pancreas. No duodenoscope seems to be safe, and so the ECRI Institute released this report with the title "High Priority Hazard" to alert the medical field to this clear threat.

Source: ECRI Institute, "High Priority Hazard Report," March 3, 2015

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