New “Nightmare” Bacteria has Been Popping up Around the U.S.

New “Nightmare” Bacteria has Been Popping up Around the U.S.
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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said earlier this year that more than 200 rare “nightmare” antibiotic-resistant genes were found during testing in 2017.

Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, expressed shock at the findings, saying:

“I was surprised by the numbers we found. Two million Americans get infections from antibiotic resistance, and 23,000 die from those infections each year.”

The authors write in the report that the bacteria haven’t spread widely, but they found a variety of resistant germs in every state.

The agency tested for 2 of the most well-known superbugs: carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), and carbapenem-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa (CRPA) bacteria. [2]

What the CDC Testing Found

The CDC tested 5,776 isolates of antibiotic-resistant germs from hospitals and nursing homes and discovered that about 1 in 4 had a gene that helped spread its resistance, while 221 bacteria contained “an especially rare resistance gene,” according to Schuchat.

Read: Antimicrobial Resistance Could Be a “Bigger Threat than Cancer” by 2050

Follow-up screening revealed that nearly 1 in every 10 contacts also tested positive. Those individuals had “silent” infections. Schuchat explained this means that “the unusual resistance has spread to other patients and could have continued spreading if left undetected.” It’s anyone’s guess as to how frequently asymptomatic patients spread the disease to uninfected people. [1] [3]

The rare genes were discovered in isolates gathered in 27 states from infection samples, including pneumonia, bloodstream infections, and urinary tract infections (UTIs). [1]

Doctors and scientists are working to halt the spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs before they even start, comparing them to a rapidly-consuming wildfire that’s difficult to bring under control. [3]

As part of the effort, the CDC recently established the Antibiotic Resistance Laboratory Network (ARLN), which consists of labs across the country that test patients’ samples for highly resistant-bacteria and track antibiotic-resistant bugs as they pop up.

Read: 2 Main Contributors to the Antibiotic-Resistance Crisis

Fortunately, Schuchat said, the CDC’s aggressive strategy to identify, track, and contain the germs has been largely successful and appears to have stopped their spread.

The agency’s strategy involves rapidly identifying superbugs at facilities, assessing those facilities for gaps in infection control, screening other patients to identify any “silent” carriers, and continuing these steps until they can put on lock on further transmission of the germs.

A mathematical model utilized by the scientists shows that implementing this strategy could prevent as many as 1,600 new CRE infections in 3 years. That’s a 76% drop in cases.

Schuchat said:

“We need to do more, and we need to do it faster and earlier with each new antibiotic-resistance threat.”


[1] CNN

[2] NBC News

[3] Live Science