Doctors say CRE is a bacteria spread through person to person contact and it’s very resistant to antibiotics. It can cause pneumonia or urinary tract and bloodstream infections. Doctors call it a “nightmare bacteria”, because it can kill half the patients who are infected.
“It moves from the gastrointestinal tract into the bloodstream or our urine, usually in folks that are already sick or are already disabled from some other medical illness,” said Dr. David Rushlow, Franciscan Health System Chief Medical Officer
Although it can be contagious, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should be concerned.
“Normal healthy people in the community, you know family, acquaintances of hospitalized patients we’re probably not at a real high risk of getting sick with this bacteria ourselves," said Dr. David McNamara, Gundersen Lutheran Infectious Diseases
Both hospitals say they’re taking steps to fight the spread of CRE.
Rushlow says Mayo has been strict with handwashing and they would isolate any patient they suspected would have CRE as well as staff who would have contact with that patient. McNamara says Gundersen has a lab that’s able to identify CRE, and stays on top of infection control. But both doctors say only using prescription drugs when necessary is the best weay to fight CRE.
“One of those big things is to prevent the overuse of antibiotics, which is, which has been such a problem for us for many years,” said Dr. Rushlow
“It’s really the fundamental thing, both for patients in the hospital as well as for patients in the clinic and in the community," said Dr. McNamara.
Mayo Health System has had four suspected cases, but none were confirmed. Gundersen Lutheran hasn’t had any confirmed or suspected cases.