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CDC: Germs Resistant to Antibiotics Grows

The CDC is recommending more comprehensive infection control methods.

Washing your hands and keeping your area clean is increasingly becoming more important.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC)  Antibiotic Resistance Lab Network is reporting a higher instance of germs with “unusual” antibiotic resistance genes in the United States last year.  

“CDC’s study found several dangerous pathogens, hiding in plain sight, that can cause infections that are difficult or impossible to treat,” said Anne Schuchat, M.D. , CDC principal deputy director. “It’s reassuring to see that state and local experts, using our containment strategy, identified and stopped these resistant bacteria before they had the opportunity to spread.”

The agency's definition of germs with "unusual resistance" includes "those that cannot be killed by all or most antibiotics, are uncommon in a geographic area or the U.S., or have specific genes that allow them to spread their resistance to other germs."

Germs evolve rapidly, continuously finding ways to resist new and existing antibiotics; stopping new resistance from developing is not currently possible. Recent, nationwide infrastructure investments in laboratories, infection control, and response are enabling tailored, rapid, and aggressive investigations to keep resistance from spreading in health care settings, according to the CDC.

In order to combat this, the CDC's first step to prevent transmission of infectious diseases and illness is identifying new or rare threats. Once this occurs, healthcare providers and hospitals can work to isolate patients and stop the spread of germs. Health departments using the approach have conducted infection control assessments and colonization screenings within 48 hours of finding unusual resistance and have reported no further transmission during follow-up over several weeks.

A well-coordinated response among health care facilities, labs, health departments and CDC through the AR Lab Network is the key to this, the agency indicates. The strategy complements foundational CDC efforts, including improving antibiotic use and preventing new infections and builds on existing detection and response infrastructure.

New data suggest that the containment strategy can prevent thousands of difficult-to-treat or potentially untreatable infections, including high-priority threats such as Candida auris and carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), according to the CDC.

The CDC's study findings discovered the following:

  • One in four germ samples sent to the AR Lab Network for testing had a special genes that allow them to spread their resistance to other germs.
  • Further investigation in facilities with unusual resistance revealed that about one in 10 screening tests, from patients without symptoms, identified a hard-to-treat germ that spreads easily. This means the germ could have spread undetected in that health care facility.
  • For CRE alone, estimates show that the containment strategy would prevent as many as 1,600 new infections in three years in a single state—a 76 percent reduction.

To read more about the containment strategy and the entire Vital Signs report, visit www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/containing-unusual-resistance.

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