The hospital said the cases cannot be called an “outbreak” because they have not been traced to a single source.
Two people were infected with CRE outside the hospital system, while one person contracted the “superbug” inside the Carolinas Health Care System-Lincoln.
CRE (carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae) has made headlines in recent weeks after 179 people were exposed at a hospital in Los Angeles, including two people who died. Soon afterward, the FDA warned that duodenoscopes could be very difficult to effectively sterilize.
CRE is a family of bacteria that are extremely difficult to treat because they are immune against nearly all antibiotics, including the “last-resort” antibiotic carbapenem. The immunity was discovered in 2001, when researchers found that the bacteria had evolved an enzyme that deactivates antibiotics.
The North Carolina hospital has implemented several measures to prevent more CRE infections, including:
- Screening high-risk patients for CRE
- Isolating patients with CRE, only using equipment exclusively for CRE patients, and in some cases having a dedicated nursing staff.
- Enhancing disinfection process for duodenoscopes by using a “triple wash” process, Ethylene-Oxide gas, and testing for CRE before using the scope on patients.
- And more