CDC: Watch Out for the Phantom Menace of Superbugs

CDC: Watch Out fot the Phantom Menace of Superbugs by Rebecca Rudolph-Witt

Star Wars terminology is popping up everywhere with the upcoming movie release, but in the case of the term ‘Phantom Menace’, surgical teams should be queuing in for different reasons. The superbug Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) turned the heads of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention experts, which named it an urgent public health threat.


The figure above is a map of the United States showing the number of reported patients with carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae producing OXA-48-like carbapenemases (N = 43) in the United States during June 2010-August 2015. (Courtesy of the CDC)

The CDC stated in a Dec. 4 report: “Newly described resistance in Enterobacteriaceae, such as plasmid-mediated resistance to the last-line antimicrobial colistin, recently detected in China, and resistance to the newly approved antimicrobial, ceftazidime-avibactam, identified from a U.S. K. pneumoniae carbapenemase-producing isolate, highlight the continued urgency to delay spread of CRE (2,3). Monitoring the emergence of carbapenemases is crucial to limiting their spread; identification of patients carrying carbapenemase-producing CRE should result in the institution of transmission-based precautions and enhanced environmental cleaning to prevent transmission.”
Its nickname is derived from its lower profile risk. This superbug type is less antibiotic-resistant than other CRE strains, so it is not frequently tested for.