90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Wednesday, August 13, 2014

New Superbug Skyrockets In Southeast

The drug-resistant bacteria CRE kills about half of those who get it, and it's on the rise in community hospitals. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The drug-resistant bacteria CRE kills about half of those who get it, and it’s on the rise in community hospitals. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

A new study out this month finds that cases of a new antibiotic-resistant superbug are sky-rocketing in community hospitals in the southeastern U.S.

The bacteria is called CRE, which stands for carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae, and it kills about half of those who get it. Researchers at Duke University Medical Center found that it has increased five fold from 2008 to 2012 in the southeast.

Dr. Joshua Thaden is the lead author of the study published in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology. He discusses CRE and why it’s on the rise with Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson.

Interview Highlights: Joshua Thaden

Why CRE is spreading so rampantly

“A CRE is very easily transmitted from person to person and I think that so far we haven’t been doing a good job of preventing that. In part, we just haven’t been doing a good job of looking for CRE. For example, with another very antibiotic-resistant bacteria called MRSA, which is staph aureus — in Duke, for example, every patient that comes to the hospital, we screen for MRSA. When we detect it, we make sure we take specific precautions to prevent this from being transmitted to another person. We don’t do that for things like CRE. Perhaps we need to start.”

On overuse of antibiotics for CRE and other drug-resistant bacteria

“There are several settings in which antibiotics get over-used and one is in the healthcare setting. It can be quite difficult to sometimes to figure out if someone needs antibiotics or not. There’s a lot of folks that have a viral infection, for example, will get prescribed antibiotics, but antibiotics actually aren’t effective against viruses.”

On finding an antibiotic that can effectively fight CRE

“People are working on that right now. We’ve had a real dearth of new antibiotics coming through the pipeline, specifically for organisms like CRE. The technical name for them is gram-negatives. It’s been decades, actually, since we had new classes of antibiotics that target these gram-negatives. The unfortunate reality is that it’s probably years away, most likely, before we have new antibiotics.”

Guest


Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

September 29 6 Comments

Michigan Coach Faces Criticism For Keeping QB In Play

University of Michigan quarterback Shane Morris was having trouble standing on his own after a major sack. The coach kept him in the game.

September 29 26 Comments

Methodist Pastor Faces Last Church Trial

Reverend Frank Schaefer, who was defrocked for officiating his son's same-sex marriage and later reinstated, awaits one more church trial. He writes about the experience in a new memoir.

September 29 7 Comments

Monarch Butterflies Could Be On Rebound

After precipitous declines in the monarch butterfly population, there are signs the species may be on the rebound.

September 26 4 Comments

Dean Of Boston Sports Journalism Celebrates 42 Years On The Job

Here & Now's Robin Young visits the most-beloved sportscaster you've never heard of: Jonny Miller.