‘Nightmare bacteria’ worries Tri-State doctor

Local News

There’s a new “nightmare” for doctors fighting back against bacteria. Hospitals and nursing homes have no way to treat a new super-bug.

The miracle of modern medicine has no answer for a new microscopic army of germs. Bacteria is getting smarter and scientists are calling it nightmare bacteria.

“We do not have adequate treatment against it,” says Evansville physician Dr. David Schultz.

It’s called Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, known simply as CRE.

There are other resistant strains of bacteria, too. The most well-known may be Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

The Centers for Disease Control say several germs are nearly impossible to treat with today’s antibiotics. They’ve become resistant to medicine and doctors are almost helpless to fight the infections.

“I’m worried about what’s happening with the future of medicine as these newer bacteria come out,” Schultz says, “they’re being invented by ourselves.”

The birth of penicillin in the 1920s was a breakthrough in medicine, but one of the body’s most powerful allies has given rise to a great weakness.

“With the over-use of antibiotics, we have promoted the highly-resistant, highly-specialized bacteria,” adds Schultz.

The CDC says recent testing uncovered the nightmare bacteria in about 200 cases across America last year, so this super-bug is super-rare. However, Schultz says doctors are seeing more cases every year.

What’s adding to the concern of CDC researchers is these new bacteria have DNA capable of spreading its immunity to other types of bacteria, effectively giving resistance to otherwise “regular” germs.

The bacteria live mostly in hospitals and nursing homes. People with weak immune systems are most vulnerable.

Schultz says it hasn’t been spotted the Tri-State.

Use common sense to prevent catching the bug. As always, wash your hands regularly and tell your doctor if you’ve recently had health care in another country.

The CDC is still working to determine how the bacteria is transmitted and who is a likely carrier. It could give way to new treatment. There is a vicious cycle of dependency, Schultz says can lead to a potential downfall.

“Researchers are going to have to try to find newer treatments and new antibiotics to try to fight that off,” he says, “knowing it may lead to further resistance.”

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(This story was originally published April 5, 2018)

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