It’s every hospital worker’s worst nightmare. A ‘superbug’ that is resistant to antibiotic treatment. The Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center is the latest hospital to face a superbug.

The superbug is known as CRE, or Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae, according to health officials.

Seven total patients are confirmed to be infected. Two of these patients died with UCLA health officials saying CRE “may have been a contributing factor.”

More than 100 patients have been notified that they have been potentially infected by this superbug. The set of patients are narrowed down to ones that received a “complex endoscopic procedure” sometime between October 2014 and January 2015.

Health officials say they did sterilize the scopes to the standards dictated by the manufacturer. But, UCLA’s own investigation found CRE may have been transmitted via these scopes during a procedure to diagnose and treat pancreaticobiliary diseases.

UCLA health officials note similar superbug exposures have popped up recently with hospitals using the same type of scope. A thorough decontamination process is now being used to make sure all instruments are completely sterilized. No word on the company who manufactures these scopes.

What Exactly is CRE and Who is at Risk?

Enterobacteriaceae refers to a family of bacteria that is commonly found in your human intestines. It’s when that bacteria leaves your intestines that causes problems. Serious infections such as pneumonia, urinary tract infections and meningitis and others can form.

Carbapenem is a type of antibiotic often used to treat these severe infections.

CRE can be treated, but it takes more than one antibiotic. Still, it’s incredibly difficult to treat. One report cited by the CDC says CRE can contribute to death in up to 50% of patients infected.

Healthy people don’t generally get CRE. It’s most common in sick patients and patients who have exposure to long-term care. A CDC infographic below highlights areas of risk and how CRE transmits from person to person.

CDC CRE infographic


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