- State and local health departments found more than 200 incidents of "nightmare bacteria" across 27 states in 2017 over a nine-month period, a CDC "Vital Signs" report found.
- Such bacteria are known for unusual antibiotic resistance properties, making some infections hard-to-treat or untreatable.
- The incidents were mostly found in hospitals and nursing homes, especially those where patients might be on ventilators for long periods of time. An official said negative pressure rooms are not effective with these types of infections.
Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem in health facilities as incidents have increased.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday an aggressive containment strategy was the first line of defense to keep new bacteria threats from spreading.
"With new resources nationwide, early and aggressive action — when even a single case is found — can keep germs with unusual resistance from spreading in healthcare facilities and causing hard-to-treat or even untreatable infections," the agency wrote. "For example, CDC estimates show that this aggressive approach could prevent 1,600 cases of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae in one state over three years."
The "nightmare" infections included pneumonia, urinary tract infections and blood stream infections.
"The bottom line is that resistance genes with the capacity to turn regular germs into nightmare bacteria have been introduced into many states," CDC Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anna Schuchat said in a media call. "But with an aggressive response, we have been able to stomp them out promptly and stop their spread between people, between facilities and between other germs."
She added clinicians and labs in hospitals and healthcare facilities need to be aware of containment strategies and recognize state health departments can help such efforts. She said there is no role for negative pressure rooms, which hospitals sometimes use, for these infections.
No trend data is available as the analysis is the first of its type, Schuchat said.
The agency said state and local health departments can:
- Make sure all healthcare facilities have state and local lab support available and know what isolates (pure samples of a germ) to send for testing;
- Develop a plan to respond rapidly to unusual genes and germs when they first occur;
- Assess the quality and consistency of infection control in state healthcare facilities;
- Coordinate with affected healthcare facilities, the new Antibiotic Resistance Lab Network regional labs and CDC for every case of unusual resistance; and
- Provide timely lab results and recommendations to affected healthcare facilities and providers.