CRKP: What You Should Know

Posted on March 26, 2011

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A dangerous drug-resistant bacteria has been spreading throughout US hospitals over the past month, say officials. This bacteria — called carbapenem-resistant klebsiella pneumoniae — or “CRKP”, is immune to common antibiotics and is spreading fast across the nation.

The infectious bacteria is spread by a simple touch, and works fast. Over 350 cases have been reported already, and studies show that 40% of infected individuals die within a month, with little treatment options in place to stop it.

Surprisingly, this is a common occurrence in sterilized environments such as hospitals and other long-term care facilities. Natural selection allows bacteria to mutate and resist common drugs over time, creating “superbugs” like CRKP. However, most outbreaks are less deadly. CRKP has been linked to the E. coli bacteria, and is described as an antibiotic-resistant organism that “can cause infections in healthcare settings, including pneumonia, bloodstream infections, wound or surgical site infections, and meningitis.” as stated by the LA County Department of Public Health.

However, hospitals and healthcare officials say most people have nothing to worry about. The bacteria is contained to hospitals and nursing homes, and has no risk of spreading to communities. The CDC has implemented an aggressive approach to controlling the bacteria, such as isolating infected patients and testing those around them. Hospitals are stressing the importance of prevention, such as frequent hand-washing by employees.

From June 1, 2010 to December 31, 2010, reports were filed on the bacteria by 102 hospitals and 5 labs.

Statistics

  • 42% of reported infections occurred at 8 long-term acute care hospitals
  • 20 cases were reported at skilled-nursing facilities.
  • The rest were reported at acute-care hospitals
  • The mean age of patients infected was 73, with over 50% being female

“These patients tend to be elderly, they are commonly on ventilators, and they often stay at the facility for an extended period of time,” Dr. Dawn Terashita, medical epidemiologist and lead author of the Los Angeles study, said in a statement.

CRKP is still a relatively new bacteria, and has been monitored by the CDC since 2009. Due to the nature of the bacteria, a cure is still yet to be developed, and the CDC still has not made reports of infections mandatory.

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