A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Vital Signs report released this week said health departments found more than 220 cases of germs with “unusual antibiotic resistance genes” in the United States last year. These germs include those that cannot be killed by all or most antibiotics, are not common to a geographic area or the U.S., or have specific genes that enable them to spread their resistance to other germs, according to a CDC release.
The CDC’s Antibiotic Resistance (AR) Lab worked with local health departments to deploy a containment strategy to stop the spread of antibiotic resistance. The first step is rapid identification of new or rare threats; after a germ with unusual resistance is detected, facilities must quickly isolate patients and begin aggressive infection control and screening actions, according to the release.
“CDC’s study found several dangerous pathogens, hiding in plain sight, that can cause infections that are difficult or impossible to treat,” said Anne Schuchat, MD, CDC’s principal deputy director, in the release. “It’s reassuring to see that state and local experts, using our containment strategy, identified and stopped these resistant bacteria before they had the opportunity to spread.”
After rapid identification of antibiotic resistance, the CDC strategy calls for infection control assessments, testing patients without symptoms who may carry and spread the germ, and continued assessments until the spread is stopped. It requires coordinated response among healthcare facilities, labs, health departments, and the CDC through the AR Lab Network.
The CDC study also found that about one in 10 screening tests of patients without symptoms found a hard-to-treat germ that spreads easily, which means the germ could have spread undetected in that facility. For carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), the report estimates that the containment strategy would prevent as many as 1,600 new infections in three years in a single state, which would be a 76% reduction.