NPR for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
ALERT: KERA News 90.1 is performing essential tower maintenance which may disrupt our over-the-air signal between July 12-14. Click here for the KERA News stream, or listen on our app or smart speakers with no disruption. Thanks for your patience!

CDC Warns Of Potent Superbug: Some Cases Reported In Texas

Nathan Reading

The antibiotic-resistant superbug that’s warranted a warning from the Centers for Disease Control has been reported in Texas. But, one North Texas hospital says it’s rare. 

Janet Glowicz, director of Infection Prevention at Parkland Hospital in Dallas says the hospital’s had one or two cases of the bacteria called CRE in the past five years, and no patient to patient transmission. She says one of Parkland’s weapons against the superbug is a computer program called Theradoc.

“And that program sends automatic alerts when any organism comes up that is resistant to multiple antibiotics," Glowicz says.  "So, when we get those alerts, generally the nurses have already put the patient on isolation, doing those prevention measures that they need to do in order to prevent the spread of those bugs.”

Glowicz says basic hand washing, use of gloves, gowns and masks, and thorough cleaning of equipment is also necessary.  Parkland uses special Ultraviolet lights to kill bacteria in rooms between patient transfers.

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, says the CRE bacteria has been around for a long time, but seems to be on the march now.  

“We know that in the first half of 2012 alone nearly 200 hospitals and long-term acute care facilities treated at least one patient who was infected with these bacteria," Dr. Frieden said in a CDC conference call.  "We’ve tracked CRE from a single health care facility in one state in 2001 to healthcare facilities now in 42 states or more.”

The CRE family of bacteria is resistant to all or nearly all antibiotics; has a high mortality rate, and can spread antibiotic resistance to other bacteria. The CDC says if that happens, a urinary tract infection, pneumonia or a bout with e coli could become untreatable.

Officials with the Department of State Health Services say the CDC notified the state of its first cases of CRE about two years ago. It is not on the Texas list of notifiable conditions, but the state’s considering adding it. State Health Services is also expanding lab capacity for molecular testing for CRE, currently contained to medical facilities. The CDC says action needs to be taken nowto prevent CRE from spreading into the community. 

Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.