The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is concerned about a "super-bug" that kills half of the patients who contract it.
Commonly known as CRE, carbapenem-resistance Enterobacteriaceae bacteria are infecting more hospitalized patients. The Center for Disease Control adds that it's becoming more impossible to treat because of their resistance to antibiotics.
"Anytime you have germs that can't be treated by any common antibiotic, it's a cause for a great deal of concern, and that scares people. And it should. There are fewer options than we used to have and these germs are really scratching the surface of having no options," says Dr. Steve Threlkeld, Infectious Disease Specialist with Baptist Hospital.
There are "last resort" antibiotics that doctors could tap into in order to treat resistant bacteria like CRE, but the CDC says they're becoming resistant to that as well.
"As we have been using antibiotics for a number of reasons – good and not so good over the years, sometimes antibiotics are overused for example – there's been more and more resistance gradually developing by the bacteria that live inside of us," says Threlkeld, "If you throw in things like a patient being allergic to types of antibiotics and you don't get those options it can be very difficult to treat certain individuals."
Doctors say the CRE bacteria lives in people's gastrointestinal system already. Given the right situation - say being in a hospital with an open wound or cut – it allows the bacteria to grow into an infection.
Threlkeld says the way to fix this concern is to make new antibiotics that the bacteria are not resistant to, but that is extremely expensive.
In the meantime, doctors say they are encouraging precautionary tips including hand washing with doctors and patients, making sure patients are given the correct amount of antibiotics and isolating patients that have these antibiotic-resistant germs.