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Carbapenem-Resistant Bacteria More Problematic Than Thought

Study of four U.S. hospitals found wide variety of species resistant to antibiotics of last resort

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TUESDAY, Jan. 17, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) is more widespread in U.S. hospitals than previously thought and needs to be more closely monitored, according to a study published online Jan. 16 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers checked for cases of illness caused by CRE in a sample of four U.S. hospitals and identified a wide variety of CRE species. Three hospitals are in the Boston area and one is in California.

CRE causes about 9,300 infections and 600 deaths in the United States each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those numbers are on the rise, the researchers said. The team also discovered that CRE has a wide range of genetic traits that make it resistant to antibiotics and that these traits are easily transferred between various CRE species.

"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," senior author William Hanage, Ph.D., an associate professor of epidemiology at the Harvard University's T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, said in a university news release. "We need to look harder for this unobserved transmission within our communities and health care facilities if we want to stamp it out."

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