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Medical News & Perspectives
October 10, 2012

To Battle Deadly Infections, Clinicians Draw on Both New and Old Tools

JAMA. 2012;308(14):1417-1418. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.12574

It was only a decade ago that scientists from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified the first case of carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae at a North Carolina long-term care facility. But since then, this highly resistant pathogen has become a serious public health problem, with cases documented at health care facilities in 40 states.

In some areas, such as New York, physicians now regularly battle such carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) infections. Because effective treatment options are limited, serious infections are associated with death rates as high as 40%. Fortunately, most US hospitals have yet to see CRE infections, with only about 6% of hospitals across the country having encountered a case, according to CDC estimates. This means there's still an opportunity to prevent the spread of this type of infection before it becomes endemic at all facilities, as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has, said Abbigail Tumpey, MPH, associate director for communications science in the CDC's Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion.

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