by Jay Scherder, KY3 News
12:10 AM CST, January 29, 2013
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A "super bug" is landing in hospitals across the country. It's nearly impossible to fight, and the hope of getting new drugs to fight it is slim.
"This is an emergent problem we've seen over a course of time with antibiotics," said CoxHealth Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Robin Trotman.
The problem isn't getting any better.
"Every time you build a new drug, you subsequently develop resistance to that drug. The bacteria are pretty smart," Dr. Trotman said.
He says one strain of bacteria is a little too smart. It's called Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae -- or CRE for short.
"These bacteria are very smart. They have the ability to turn on genes that let them chew up the antibiotics and rending them ineffective," Trotman said.
The problem with CRE is they are resistant to almost all antibiotics. When they enter your system, they start transmitting their genes to other bacteria. Those become resistant to antibiotics, too.
Trotman says CoxHealth has had one confirmed case in its biology lab.
"We have several checks in place to identify these germs," he said.
He admitted CRE are not easy to find.
"The problem with the CREs is they are a little bit hard to detect in the lab."
Trotman said some hospitals don't have the equipment to test for it. They have to send it away, and the results can take several days.
"The characteristics of the bugs, you actually have to look for them. If you just rely on the automated machines to detect these germs, you may miss them."
Sadly, Trotman said, there isn't much in the drug pipeline to fight the troublesome bacteria.
"Looking for a new class of drugs that these germs haven't seen," he said, "they're are not in sight. There is really nothing."
A big reason for that is potential economic return -- or, plainly said, not enough profit.
"It's used for a finite amount of time. They are exceedingly expensive. So incentivizing drug companies to build these drugs is tough."
So doctors are trying to think outside the box.
"So we're coming up with creative ways to use old drugs. We're coming up with combinations and additives to older drugs."
They can only hope the bacteria doesn't become widespread.
For the most part, the bacteria only affects people with compromised immune systems or people that have been in the hospital for a long time. It could become very worrisome if the bacteria starts attacking the healthy.
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