CDC warns hospital patients about drug-resistant superbug

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The Centers for Disease Control wants hospitals and patients to be aware of a drug-resistant superbug that is spreading throughout the country.

The infections, carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE), have developed over the past decade in hospitals and cannot be treated with antibiotics. In fact, some types of the infection kill 50 percent of the patients who get them.

“They can be very difficult to treat,” said Dr. Chris Belcher, Director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital.

Drug-resistant diseases have always been a problem, but the CDC says CRE are becoming more prevalent and that by getting the word out, they could be stopped before it gets too bad. CRE has only been reported in hospitals and is most common in patients who spend a lot of time in the hospital. At least one case has been reported in 42 states, including Indiana.

“The sicker the patient, with more tubes and lines in them, the more likely they are to pick up a resistant organism,” Belcher said.

If you or a loved one are in the hospital, be aware of what’s happening in your surroundings. Dr. Belcher said you shouldn’t be afraid to ask health care providers if they washed their hands before they came into your room.

“It’s okay to ask your providers if they wash (their) hands,” Belcher said.

The infection is spread for the most part from health care providers who do not realize they’ve been in contact with an infected patient, then move on to another patient.

Other important tips include only taking antibiotics when absolutely necessary and prescribed, as well as alerting providers to any prior hospital stays, especially in other countries.

Cases of CRE are still very rare and Indiana has seen so few cases, there is no current reported number.

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