February 23, 2015 — The same “superbug” that was linked to two deaths in Los Angeles may have contributed to another death in North Carolina, according to WSOC-TV.
Health officials in the Charlotte area confirmed three cases of CRE infection this year, including two people who were infected outside the hospital and a third who was infected in the Carolinas Health Care System-Lincoln.
However, they said the cluster of cases can’t be called an “outbreak” because they can’t be tied to a single source.
CRE, or carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, is a family of infection-causing bacteria that are very difficult to treat because they have evolved an enzyme that inactivates nearly all antibiotics — including carbapanems, which are “last-resort” antibiotics.
Hospital officials in North Carolina are now actively performing CRE screenings for high-risk patients. Any patients found with CRE are placed in isolation. Equipment in the room is used exclusively with patients with CRE. In some facilities with high-risk patients, a dedicated nursing staff cares only for patients with CRE.
The hospital has also implemented more rigorous cleaning standards for duodenoscopes, which are a type of endoscope inserted down a patient’s throat.
Last week, the FDA warned that certain scopes may be very difficult to sterilize, which could contribute to outbreaks of CRE. The warnings were issued after 179 people were exposed to CRE at a hospital in Los Angeles.
The North Carolina hospital will enhance its current high-level disinfection process for endoscopes by using a “triple wash” process, using an additional process involving Ethylene Oxide gas, and testing all duodenoscopes for CRE before using them on patients.