Where Did CRE Start?

While Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, can now be found in hospitals across the nation, there was a single outbreak that may have caused it all. At the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, two patients died in 2015 and about 200 others were left at risk of infection. This left many wondering: How did this happen? Where did this "superbug" come from?

The Origins of CRE

CRE are actually part of a very common group of germs, which includes infections like E. coli. However, as the name implies, the CRE are resistant to antibiotics called carbapenems. These extremely powerful antibiotics are often the very last resort for doctors. For healthy people, such an infection can often be handled by the immune system, with perhaps some help from medicines. And because CRE usually stay in a person’s gut, they are not a huge risk; in fact, they are part of the large collection of bacteria found in every person’s digestive system.

The evolution of CRE can be attributed to both man and nature. These germs have naturally built up defenses against outside forces found in nature. But, they have also adapted to our antibiotics, building enzymes that render them useless. Our antibiotics and sanitizers kill off weaker strains, and those that survive reproduce to carry on the characteristics that made them tough enough to resist our drugs and cleaners.

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How It Spread

When CRE are contained within the gut, they pose very little risk, especially to healthy individuals. However, when they infect other areas of the body, it can become an issue. That’s exactly what happened at the UCLA Medical Center. Special tools called duodenoscopes are used to look at the gastrointestinal tract, including the gut where CRE live. These scopes are very intricate, so they are difficult to clean thoroughly. Two of the scopes were cleaned, then reused on other patients. As such, the bacteria spread from one patient to another.

It wasn’t as if UCLA cleaned the scopes in the wrong way. They followed the CDC guidelines to the letter. However, it simply wasn’t enough to kill this superbug. Now, they have started gas sterilization to clean tools, a step beyond what the CDC recommends. However, these are not the only tools that can spread the bacteria. It can also be spread by catheters, ventilators and even open wounds. If the medical staff has not properly sanitized themselves after being in contact with a person infected with CRE, it could spread to you.

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If You’re Infected

While the main outbreak of CRE started in California, strains can now be found in hospitals in at least 42 states. If you become infected, follow all instructions from your healthcare provider. They will likely recommend different treatment options, some of which may be brand new.

It is also advisable to speak with an experienced attorney. If you develop a CRE infection due to a medical professional’s negligence, they may be liable for your medical bills and other damages. At Ernst Law group, we have decades of experience representing clients who have been affected by medical malpractice and even wrongful death. Your initial consultation is free. Call us today.

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At Ernst Law Group, we have decades of combined experience handling medical malpractice and even wrongful death cases. We know how difficult this time can be, and we want to make it as easy and simple as possible for you and your loved ones to get the representation you deserve. The Ernst Law Group is prepared to take on lawsuits on behalf of CRE victims and their families, as we are currently accepting new cases. Call today for a free consultation.

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