Lethal bacteria affecting long-term care facilities could spell 'end of antibiotics,' CDC says

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Higher acuity residents drove skilled nursing home bed prices to record levels in 2013, report finds
Higher acuity residents drove skilled nursing home bed prices to record levels in 2013, report finds

A lethal type of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is on the rise in acute and long-term care facilities, and providers must act to prevent the spread of these germs that kill about half of all people who become infected, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention announced Tuesday.

The bacteria, Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), are found in healthy digestive systems but cause infections when they get in other organs or the bloodstream. Some CRE germs are resistant even to antibiotics of “last resort,” such as carbapenems, and the germs can transfer their resistance to other kinds of bacteria. Because of this, CRE infections could be “the beginning of the end of antibiotics,” said Arjun Srinivasan, M.D., an associate director in the CDC's Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion.

The most common type of CRE infection increased seven-fold in the last decade, according to the CDC. About 18% of long-term acute care facilities saw a CRE infection in the first half of 2012, but hospital patients and nursing home residents have also become infected. CRE infections have been reported by 42 states and are often seen in the Northeast, the agency said.

States such as Colorado and Florida have already undertaken successful CRE control initiatives, but a coordinated effort involving all care providers, policymakers and the general public is needed to control the problem nationally, the CDC said. The agency offers a CRE toolkit with prevention guidelines for nursing homes.