NM, country braces for deadly bacteria strain

Posted at: 11/29/2012 7:04 PM
Updated at: 11/29/2012 7:08 PM
By: Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A deadly strain of bacteria is raising concern among the medical community across the country, but how big the problem is and more importantly, where is it are questions here in New Mexico.

The bacteria known as CRE is named for its ability to defy even the strongest antibiotics. It has shown up in hospitals, health care facilities and nursing homes across the country.

New Mexico is among the states that, so far, do not have any way of tracking it.

When you're at the hospital, surrounded by state-of-the-art equipment and in the care of top-of-the-line doctors, patients would like to think they are in good hands but it's what is not seen - bacteria - that could be lurking anywhere that could potentially kill.

Symptoms of CRE show up as everything from pneumonia to intestinal and urinary tract infections.

A USA Today study, conducted with the help of the Centers for Disease Control found, death rates among patients with CRE infections can be about 40 percent, which is significantly higher than more commonly-known infections such as MRSA.

According to the CDC, since the first reported case of CRE in 2001, strains of the bacteria have spread to at least 41 states. The CDC has urged state health departments to track the elusive killer to help prevent the spread of it, but only a handful are and New Mexico isn't one of them.

The New Mexico Department of Health responded to our question why, and wrote, "CRE is not currently a public health problem in New Mexico. Therefore, the New Mexico Department of Health does not have a statewide requirement for tracking and reporting the existence of CRE or routine screening for CRE."

No tracking may be among the reason cases here and elsewhere may go unrecognized.

The CDC said focus needs to be on tracking and screening, the best way to stop the bacteria from spreading beyond just healthcare facilities and into the general public.