Past year the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had detected over 220 cases of a "nightmare bacteria" that exhibits a high resistance to antibiotics, which makes it "virtually untreatable", USA Today reports.
Some of the sick patients had traveled for surgery or other health care to another country where drug-resistant germs are more common, and the superbug infections were discovered after they returned to the U.S.
Doctors liken the spread of "nightmare bacteria" and other antibiotic-resistant germs to a "wildfire ... hard to contain once it spreads widely", Live Science reported.
According to the media outlet, about 2 million people in the United States fall ill, and 23,000 die, each year due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Infections of this kind are "virtually untreatable with modern medicine", CDC Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat said in a press briefing Tuesday.
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"We need to do more and we need to do it faster and earlier with each new antibiotic resistance threat", Dr. Schuchat urged healthcare providers and public health officials. It is unknown how frequently "asymptomatic carriers" spread the disease to uninfected people, she noted. In this case, they're building a strong resistance to carbapenems-class antibiotics, and their infections are deadly around 50 percent of the time.
To prevent further widespread of uncontrolled infections, the CDC launched a so-called containment strategy in 2017 led by the Antibiotic Resistance Lab Network.
Researchers at the CDC said that previous year they tested 5,700 samples of resistant bacteria, and of those samples, 221 were CRE or similar bacteria.
In health care facilities where unusual resistance was found, researchers found that in patients without symptoms, about one in 10 screening tests identified a difficult-to-treat germ that spreads easily.
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"Even in remote areas" this threat is real, because patients often transfer to and from other places for care, said Dr. Jay Butler, chief medical officer for the state of Alaska and past president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.
The worst part is that the bacteria strains could share the ability to resist antibiotics to other bacteria, notes the CDC report published on April 3rd.
Doctors say the resistance stems from the overuse and overprescription of antibiotics. Working with hospital and state infection control teams, the spread of a rare infection can be stopped.
However, Schuchat said it is just the beginning of a lengthy process toward killing antibiotic-resistant germs.
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