GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - Antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" are making U.S. health care officials very nervous these days, but the latest strain apparently has not shown up in Garfield County yet.
At Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs, two officials said their facility has not had any cases of CRE, or carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, which was first detected in 2001 and is now feared to be spreading to health care facilities around the country.
At Grand River Hospital, according to community relations director Annick Pruett, there also have been no cases of CRE infections reported.
The name of the bug refers to its resistance to what are known as the "last resort antibiotics," called carbapenems.
An official with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Dr. Wendy Bamberg, said that hospitals around the state are required to report any cases of CRE to the state.
But, Bamberg added, "We don't track that on a statewide, facility-specific basis." She said that, since reporting began in November 2012, there have been 23 cases reported in Colorado.
She also said that, in cases involving "serious infections," such as in the bloodstream, some studies have shown that CRE has a 50 percent fatality rate.
Questions regarding whether a specific institution has experienced a case of CRE, she explained, should be directed to the institution itself.
"It is definitely of concern to us," Bamberg said of the CRE phenomenon. "This is a pretty scary bacteria. There are very few treatment options for this."
In general, according to Valley View Infection Control Director Trish Cerise, "CRE are in a family of more than 70 bacteria ... which include E.coli and Klebsiella pneumonia, which normally live in the digestive tract."
Cerise cited statistics from the Center for Disease Control, stating that within the first half of 2012, four percent of U.S. Hospitals and 18 percent of nursing homes had treated at least one patient for a CRE bacterial infection.
"The CDC is concerned about the spread of this latest resistant bacteria," Cerise continued, and has issued guidelines for preventing and controlling the disease through "meticulous attention to cleaning and disinfection or sterilization practices."
The hospital also is "using antibiotics carefully," Cerise said, as the overuse of antibiotics by the health care industry has been at least partly blamed for the rise of resistant bacterial strains.
Pruett, too, said that Grand River Hospital follows the guidelines of the CDC in dealing with the possibility of infections.