Nightly News   |  March 06, 2013

Hospitals scramble to kill ‘superbug’

The Centers for Disease Control has identified deadly ‘nightmare’ bacteria that’s resistant to antibiotics and spreading through the nation’s hospitals. NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman reports.

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>>> we now turn to health news tonight. new and extremely dangerous super germs that are showing up in hospitals across this country. other health care facilities. prompting some strong and alarming language from the cdc. we get our report tonight from our chief medical editor, dr. nancy snyderman .

>> it's a silent threat lurking inside our nation's hospitals. a deadly class of super bugs that's nearly impossible to treat.

>> it's resistant to virtually all antibiotics. so when an individual gets this microbe and it invades the blood or invades tissue, curing them becomes very difficult.

>> and these bacteria are deadly. with a fatality rate approaching 50%. 42 states, 4% of hospitals, and 18% of long-term acute care facilities have reported problems. these outbreaks are called cre infections, because they're resistant to carbro penum, one of the most potent antibiotics available. so far they have been contained to hospitals and nursing homes, primarily infecting people with already compromised immune systems . the challenge is to keep these bacteria from reaching the general population . this medical center in new york city has been able to cut its cre cases in half, by testing all patients admitted to the critical care unit and isolating them from other patients. they have discovered many hospitals have been regularly and unknowingly transferring infected patients into their institution.

>> 40% of the cre i detected in the hospital could be accounted for by patients who were positive at the time they were admitted through my emergency room .

>> perhaps most troubling is the potential for cre-resistant bacteria to spread to patients with common ailments like diarrhea, you're theiry tract infections and pneumonia.

>> extremely potentially dangerous problem, but we have a window of opportunity to contain it.

>> and containing it is priority number one right now. because there are no new antibiotics in the pipeline, and the drug companies right now really don't have any treatments to offer us, brian, for these lethal infections.

>> the next thing to worry about. dr. nancy, thank you,