Two of the most feared superbugs, CRE and CRPA, have now been identified all over the U.S.
As CDC scientist Anne Schuchat put it, “We found nightmare bacteria in your backyard.”
The result of a nationwide hunt, the CDC’s discovery tells us that these superbugs — which are impossible (or nearly impossible) to kill with our current arsenal of antibiotics — have made more inroads than experts realized.
Should they cross your path, they can turn a seemingly minor infection or medical procedure into a death sentence.
And if we don’t do everything in our power to stop what’s happening, it may soon be too late.
That’s why there’s no time to waste in taking some simple — but vital — steps toward keeping yourself and your loved ones as safe as possible from these deadly invaders.
The triple threat
The recent discovery of over 221 germs with “unusual” resistance to antibiotics was a shock to many experts because, as Dr. Schuchat describes it, these pathogens have been “hiding in plain sight.”
As for the “nightmare bacteria” that kills over 50 percent of those who become infected? The agency identified it in hospitals across 27 states.
But how that bacteria advances its “troops” is even more frightening. A CDC spokesman refers to it as the “triple threat,” explaining that not only can the pathogens spread and infect others, “but the genes that allow it to be resistant can also be shared to other bacteria.”
Experts have been in a panic about this impending crisis for years now. As a professor of infectious diseases observed some time ago, “We’re already falling off the cliff.”
But not to worry — the feds have finally crawled into action!
Two years ago, the CDC started its “Antibiotic Resistance Lab Network” (called the “swat team” approach), setting up research labs in all 50 states that share information and have the ability to detect these superbugs (even in food!), as well as diagnosing people who carry the germs.
And yes, we certainly need that kind of approach. However, we won’t be able to put a lid on this menace until we halt two of the main behaviors that got us into this mess in the first place:
#1 The practice of giving perfectly healthy farm animals antibiotics every single day is still commonplace in farming. Regardless of all that we know and fear about superbugs, up to 80 percent of the antibiotics sold in the U.S. continue to go straight to the farm… not the pharmacy.
#2 Doctors still routinely give out antibiotic prescriptions to people with viral conditions… even though these drugs are totally ineffective against them.
And despite the efforts of the CDC’s special laboratories, superbugs are still killing around 23,000 Americans annually. Last year, I told you about a woman in a Nevada hospital who was infected with CRE (one of the germs the CDC was looking for). Doctors tried to save her life using over two dozen kinds of antibiotics, but none worked.
Those casualties, however, will be chicken feed compared to what’s being predicted. Experts say that in the next few decades, the superbug plague will kill 10 million people worldwide.
Yikes! That’s why you need to do everything possible to reduce your exposure to these deadly pathogens.
First, the hospital is obviously one of the places where you’re most likely to encounter them. So, if you or a loved one is hospitalized, be sure that any IVs or catheters are removed ASAP.
Next, stop taking antibiotics just to be on the “safe side.” Anytime your doctor gives you an Rx for one and you don’t have a bacterial infection, ask why you need it. And if your GP is a habitual antibiotic prescriber, maybe it’s time to shop around for a doc who understands the seriousness of this threat.
Start buying organic meat and poultry. Organically raised farm animals aren’t given routine antibiotics unless they’re sick – at which time they’re no longer considered to be organic.
And every single expert is telling us that mom was right: Washing your hands often and thoroughly will go a long way toward keeping these bugs out of circulation.
“‘Nightmare bacteria’ are trying to spread in the U.S., CDC says” Maggie Fox, April 3, 2018, NBC News, nbcnews.com