Rise of the superbugs: This isn’t a movie
Thursday, June 16, 2016
Superbugs aren’t insects. But they can be a pest for physicians and their patients.
Superbugs are strains of bacteria that cause serious infections that have become resistant to several types of antibiotics. Because superbugs often cause such infections in healthcare settings, doctors and hospitals are seeing more of them.
The good news is that America’s healthcare providers are doing a better job of preventing infections caused by superbugs, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even so, the CDC urges continued vigilance.
“We’re always on guard, working to make sure healthy patients stay healthy and others don’t get worse. We make sure we follow the CDC guidelines,” says Dr. Lynn Wagner of BayCare Clinic Emergency Physicians.
The CDC’s strategy for fighting superbugs: Urging healthcare providers to prevent the spread of bacteria between patients, to prevent infections related to surgery and/or the placement of a catheter, and to improve their handling of antibiotics.
Superbugs are serious business. More than 2 million people develop antibiotic-resistant infections and at least 23,000 people die each year because of such infections, according to the CDC.
Among the superbugs posing the most serious threats are:
- CDIFF, or C. difficile, which causes life-threatening diarrhea and is often caused by overuse of antibiotics.
- CRE, or carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, often seen in those using catheters or ventilators.
- MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, often seen as skin infections outside healthcare facilities or as bloodstream infections among healthcare patients.