The antibiotic-resistant superbug that killed at least two hospital patients in California also has been confirmed at hospitals in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area, WSOC-TV, Charlotte, reported Saturday. A statement issued by Carolinas HealthCare System-Lincoln said three cases of carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, have been confirmed.
The statement said two of those infected contracted the bug outside the hospital and the third was infected inside the Lincoln facility. WSOC said Carolinas HealthCare System was taking steps to address the problem, expanding decontamination procedures and protocols beyond industry standards, and was screening highest-risk patients.
The statement said the hospital system planned to place patients with CRE infections in isolation, provide dedicated equipment to such patients, clean rooms on a daily basis and where necessary dedicate staff for patients with CRE.
Medical officials said CRE can be contracted by coming into contact with an infected wound or stool and is mostly found in health care settings.
Earlier this week, the University of California, Los Angeles, hospital system reported it was contacting 179 patients who may have been exposed to CRE after undergoing procedures with specialized endoscopes -- duodenoscopes -- that are used to diagnose and treat pancreatic and bile duct disease. UCLA said two patients had died after undergoing the procedure and contracting CRE. The two were among seven patients known to have been infected at Ronald Reagan Medical Center.
Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle reported in January 32 patients had been infected with bacteria spread through endoscopes in a two year period. Contaminated endoscopes also are blamed for dozens of infections in Pittsburgh in 2012 and Chicago last year. No fatalities have been linked to those incidents.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said CRE is among the superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics, making them extremely difficult to treat. More than 23,000 deaths and 2 million illnesses are linked to superbugs every year in the United States.