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Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) FAQ

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Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) FAQ

 

cre-faqWhat is CRE?

CRE is a carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae, which means it is a bacterium that has developed a strong resistance to antibiotics.  The
bacteria are specifically resistant to the antibiotic carbapenem.  The normal method of treating bacterial infection is through antibiotics.  If you are infected with CRE, the typical course of antibiotic treatment will not be as effective on these bacteria because of their resistance to it, which means that once you are infected with this bacteria, it is notoriously difficult to treat.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of CRE?

CRE symptoms vary and are contingent on the specific site of infection. Depending upon the organ that is infected, the host may show a variety of symptoms, but some of the most common symptoms that appear regardless of the organ affected are pneumonia, high fever, sepsis, and septic shock. Although these symptoms are a warning sign to visit a doctor, there is still the possibility that you are suffering from the strain that is not resistant to antibiotics and can be easily treated.  However, it is still important to see a doctor as soon as these symptoms arise to determine the cause and proper course of treatment.

Is CRE Contagious?

CRE is transmitted from person to person, usually by direct contact with skin, contaminated feces, or medical instruments used in hospitals. Once infected, CRE can be found throughout the body, including specific organs like the kidney or liver.  The bacteria is easily spread if anything comes into contact with them, and this is why proper medical decontamination is so imperative, whether during a surgery or any other medical procedure.

Why is it not curable?

When bacteria survive antibiotics, it is because they have developed immunity to it, and when they multiply, they pass along their immunity and increase the number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.  Certain bacteria are resistant to specific antibiotics and these different types of bacteria are able to share their genes to develop a resistance to the other types of antibiotics as well.  Carbapenem is a strong antibiotic normally used to treat bacterial infections, but CRE has now developed the ability to produce enzymes that break down the antibiotic and render it ineffective. CRE can still be treated, but the mortality rate has increased to 40-50%. Currently, bacteria are evolving at a much faster rate than our medication, which makes bacteria such as CRE a great threat to society.

Aren’t the bacteria in my body already? What’s the difference?

CRE are naturally found in the gastrointestinal tract in the human body where they remain harmless and will not affect one’s health. However, when the bacteria are introduced to other organs or even the blood stream, the infection can become lethal. If the original bacteria not resistant to antibiotics are killed with treatment then the host will return to normal health, but now that CRE has adapted to survive antibiotic treatment, the infection could become fatal.

How Can I Get Tested for It?

When testing for CRE, your doctor takes a blood sample containing the bacteria to determine if the immune strain of bacteria is present.  This is done by introducing antibiotics to the bacterial culture to see if the antibiotics are effective in killing the bacteria or not. If the bacteria persist, then it is clear that the particular strain present is resistant to treatment.  Doctors can also utilize this method to test the effectiveness of new antibiotics being developed.

Who Is At Risk of Getting It?

Like any other disease, CRE often targets individuals who have weaker immune systems. Hospitals and other medical settings are the primary source of infection due to high quantity of individuals already suffering from illness. Therefore, individuals who are often in medical settings such as medical professionals and family members visiting patients are at a higher risk of contracting CRE. Your risk may also increase if you undergo any surgical procedures that involve the incision of medical devices such as catheters or endoscopes. Additionally, if you find yourself traveling to underdeveloped countries, such as India, you are more likely to contract the drug resistant strain. This is due to a larger presence of CRE amongst infected individuals.

If you believe you’ve been affected by CRE bacteria, contact the Ernst Law Group today for a free consultation and see how we can help you get the compensation you deserve.

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