Chicago Hospitals Find Innovative Way to Battle CRE Superbug

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A group of Chicago hospitals has managed to cut the number of infections caused by the superbug Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, by half. Now U.S. health officials want that kind of campaign to go nationwide.

CDC Looks to Chicago Hospitals’ Example to Curb Superbug Infections

A collaboration between Rush University Medical Center and Cook County health officials has dramatically reduced the spread of CRE, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The Chicago Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Prevention Epicenter (CARPE), a CDC-funded research program, tested patients for the superbug immediately after they were admitted and then 2 weeks later. The superbug is resistant to most antibiotics, and was passed from patient to patient in several recent outbreaks via a specialized medical device called a duodenoscope.

The hospitals then isolated patients who had been infected with CRE, bathed them in a special analeptic wipe called chlorhexidine gluconate, and required staff to wear protective gear while treating them. After 3 years of applying this method, the facilities cut their CRE infections by half, results the agency would like to see across the country.

“When it comes to antimicrobial resistance, for many of the threats that we face, we know what to do,” CDC Director Tom Frieden told Reuters. “We just need to get it done.”

Obama Administration Issues Plan to Fight Superbug

The Obama administration has called on hospitals to reduce CRE infections by 60%, and other antibiotic resistant infections like Clostridium difficile and Staphylococcus aureus by at least 50% by 2020, according to FiercePharma. But not all experts are convinced this goes far enough to address the problem.

“The plan clearly addresses antibiotic use in humans, but ignores the problems with overuse in animal agriculture,” Mae Wu, an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council’s health program, told the Wall Street Journal.

The proposal requires the FDA and Department of Agriculture to reduce use of antibiotics to promote growth in animals used for food. However, many antibiotics are approved for both growth promotion and disease prevention, which may create a loophole that the administration’s plan fails to address.

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