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Illinois is facing the spread of a 'superbug' disease that is resistant to antibiotics.
The group of bacteria, called Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, appears to be resistant to antibiotics, leaving patients with few treatment options.
Dr. Susan Bleasdale, medical director of infection control at the University of Illinois at Chicago, describes the population that is most at risk for CRE.
“People that develop this infection are usually very ill and have a high chance of dying from the infection because they have other illness at the same time that make them very weak and susceptible,” Bleasdale said.
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As bacteria develop further resistance to antibiotics, new medicine are created to combat these pathogens. However, there is no known antibiotics that is effective against CRE at this time.
Bleasdale said CRE is showing up mostly in hospitals.
“It is an infection that typically right now is affecting people that are in the hospital, have had different antibiotics -- have had different procedures that put them at risk for developing the infection,” Bleasdale said.
According to Bleasdale, Illinois was one of the first states to see CRE and because of that, the state has seen a higher concentration of cases compared to other regions.
“Initially in Illinois it started in Chicago in the early 2000s, but we had see it in pockets in New York and North Carolina,” Bleasdale said. “We are one of the states that has a significant amount of CRE and partly it’s because when you have the first case in an area ... and it’s in a setting like a university hospitals where there’s a lot of different procedures… that’s where these things can spread.”
In 2016, 48 states had reported at least one isolated case of CRE.
Bleasdale said the Illinois Department of Public Health is working with more than 100 hospitals to track CRE in Illinois and be alerted if an admitted patient has a history of CRE . Since Illinois was one of the first states to deal with CRE and has methods for tracking it, the state’s number of CRE cases may differ from other states.
“Also, because we’re tracking it, our numbers are little bit higher than other states because we have a better handle on the amount of cases that we have in our state,” she said.
In addition to research about the disease and the transmission of CRE, Bleasdale said many hospitals are adopting an antibiotic stewardship program to help prevent further drug resistance.
“Antibiotic stewardship is choosing antibiotics wisely, making sure they have narrow coverage that you use it for the appropriate amount of time and for the right reason,” Bleasdale said.
Bleasdale said that while most of the general public are not at high risk for CRE, she encouraged everyone to be proactive in reducing their chances of developing antibiotic resistance by working with healthcare providers to determine if antibiotics are needed, and if so, the proper usage.