'Superbug' microbe poses 'urgent' threat to public healthby Lorna Benson, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Health officials are asking for the public's help in combating antibiotic-resistant microbes.
Nationwide there have been an estimated 9,300 cases annually of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, known as CRE, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Minnesota has so far tallied 93 cases, half of them since December. Twelve resulted in death.
CREs pose an "urgent" threat to public health according to a new list of 18 superbugs released by the CDC today.
State epidemiologist Dr. Ruth Lynfield said the spread of the superbug and others is alarming because the prospect for new antibiotics is limited.
"We really, really have to take seriously antimicrobial stewardship and infection prevention, and do everything we can to prevent the transmission of these resistant bacteria, and everything we can to increase the lifespan of our antibiotics," she said.
According to the CDC, healthy people typically do not contract CRE infections. They commonly occur among patients in healthcare facilities. Those most at risk include those who use ventilators, urinary or intraveneous catheters and those who are taking long courses of antibiotics.
Lynfield said a surveillance project in the St. Cloud area confirmed more than 1,400 cases of another superbug, C. difficile, over a four-year period. The bacterium causes severe diarrhea and was linked to 23 deaths.
Antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea cases also are continuing to increase.
Lynfield said Minnesotans should not pressure doctors for antibiotics. But if antibiotics are needed, she said, it's important to take the medication as directed, and not save it for a future illness.
"Everybody has to take this seriously," she said. "This really needs to be a wakeup call because it takes everyone in the community to make a dent in this issue."