More than 200 cases of a rare and particularly antibiotic-resistant bacteria were found last year throughout the United States, according to a new report.
The rare bacteria, which is extremely hard to treat and resistant to most types of antibiotics, was found in 221 samples of germs tested from hospitals and nursing homes in 27 different states, according to data published this week by researchers with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Researchers analyzed infection data from the National Healthcare Safety Network for 2006 to 2015 and used focused data from the Antibiotic Resistance Laboratory Network (ARLN) for 2017.
ARLN was formed in 2016 to detect antibiotic resistance in healthcare settings, food, and the community. This is the first year the CDC tested for rare antibiotic bacteria genes, so there is no data to compare trends.
In total, 5,776 isolates were tested for carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) and carbapenem-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa (CRPA). Both are extremely rare bacteria that are resistant to most or all antibiotics.
Many of the antibiotic resistant superbugs carry genes for resistance that officials haven’t seen before in the U.S. Testing was done in hospitals and nursing homes; environments where bacteria resistant to antibiotics is especially prone to breeding.
Researchers indicate one in seven hospital infections are antibiotic resistant and one-quarter of all nursing home residents tested positive for antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Overall, the new analysis indicated one in four people tested positive for antibiotic resistant bacteria.
According to the findings, 221 of those samples tested positive for an especially rare antibiotic resistant gene. These types of bacteria are particularly dangerous and can kill up to 50% of people infected.
The rare antibiotic resistant bacteria, sometimes referred to as a “nightmare superbug”, was found in 27 states across the U.S. However, health officials emphasized a variety of resistant bacteria can be found in every state across the country.
Researchers tested for the bacteria from infectious samples from patients who had pneumonia, bloodstream infections, and urinary tract infections.
The prevalence of the rare superbug may be even more widespread, researchers warn, as the study only involved certain labs in some states. It was not a full national testing effort.
Researchers noted that others close to the patients may also be infected with the superbugs, but may not show symptoms. It is unknown how often those who are infected with the bacteria, but have no symptoms, spread the disease to uninfected people.
During follow-up screening, one in 10 people tested positive for the rare resistant bacteria. This indicated the unusually resistant bacteria spread to other patients and could have continued to spread if it went undetected.
Health officials warn that much of the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria stems from antibiotic prescribing practices that have largely remained unchanged in recent years.
More than 2 million Americans contract antibiotic resistant bacterial infections. About 23,000 will die from those infections. More vigilance, improved surveillance, and isolation methods are needed to prevent future infections and spread, the CDC warned.