“”These are nightmare bacteria that present a triple threat,” said Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “They’re resistant to nearly all antibiotics. They have high mortality rates, killing half of people with serious infections. And they can spread their resistance to other bacteria.”
So far, this particular class of superbug, called carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, has been found only in hospitals or nursing homes, rather than in the community, Frieden said. But officials sounded the alarm partly because, if the bacteria’s spread isn’t contained soon, even common infections could become untreatable.
In 2001, only 1.2% of the common family of bacteria, Enterobacteriaceae, were resistant to carbapenem antibiotics — the strongest class available. By 2011, that figure had jumped to 4.2%.
In the first half of 2012, nearly 200 hospitals treated at least one of these infections, Frieden said.