Hospitals taking precautions against "superbug"

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- The “nightmare bacteria” resistant to most antibiotics has shown up in at least one Denver medical facility, according to the Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

The CDPHE could not identify how many instances of the bacteria there have been in Colorado, but state health officials are urging all health facilities to act aggressively to stop the spread of the dangerous CRE-- carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae-- bacteria.

“We’re very concerned about this bacteria,” said Erin Epson, epidemic intelligence service officer for CDPHE. “Serious infections caused by CRE can have a high mortality rate, as high as 50 percent.”

Colorado is one of six states in which laboratories are required to report CRE to the state health department. For each case of CRE, CDPHE provides information on CRE preventative measures to local health facilities where the bacteria was detected.

Community Hospital Lead Microbiologist Jennifer Eddins said patients who are admitted to the hospital are screened to determine if the patient has been hospitalized overseas or in Denver.

“You can be a carrier and transmit the organism and not be sick with it, and that’s why we want to monitor those people and screen them to see if they are carriers or not,” Eddins said. “We are on alert for it to be prepared and monitor it.”

CRE bacteria is spread on surfaces and can be transferred from patient to patient or doctor to patient. Experts say the biggest preventative measure is to wash hands frequently with soap and water, and do not rely on hand sanitizer.

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