“Nightmare Bacteria”

By Dana Mourad

The fear of bacteria can be a "nightmare".Photo credit Wikipedia

The fear of bacteria can be a “nightmare”.
Photo credit Wikipedia

Freshman year is all about adjusting and shaping yourself into becoming a fresh young adult ready to search for your role in the world. By sophomore year, you usually develop a clearer understanding of what you want the focus of your life to be around. Shedding light on the science departments, suddenly you’ve got a long list of future physicians, pharmacists, dentists, radiologists, clinicians, psychologists, physician assistants and physical therapists. In taking that decision, you find yourself with a longer list of specific certifications, volunteer hours, and work experience you need to complete before entering graduate school. A hospital is a common arena that joins all these different professions together, and many of us are already in the hospital environment beginning to discover these requirements. True, we are not yet certified professionals but we can do something that’ll contribute to the greater health and good of everyone around us…especially during times like now!

Things we hear about in the news are no longer distant things we can’t affect or control. Many issues, especially those that are health related, can potentially be experienced in our everyday lives. “Nightmare bacteria”, as hospitals are now referring to it as, is breaking loose throughout the country. Already striking over 42 states, this bacterium is spreading quicker amongst patients than seen in the previous years. The Centers for Disease Control issued that this bacteria known as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, are highly resistant to antibiotics and are extremely difficult to treat; there exists a 50% chance that CRE can cause death amongst infected patients. This specimen is not usually found amongst people outside of the hospital, but those inside and that have been on antibiotics for a long time are at greater risk. One reason all physicians are agreeing on is that this bacterium is becoming more frequent as it has evolved genetically due to abuse of antibiotics in the past.

What can you do to help? First of all, make sure you always wash your hands or sanitize them frequently especially before approaching a patient. Offer anyone around you some too! If you are aware that someone might be infected, request that they be isolated in a separate room. Pay close attention to antibiotics being prescribed and how frequently these are being prescribed. Maybe doctors can cut down on the antibiotic usage and incorporate something different in the treatment plan. (An idea for a research project or article?) Be sure to do more in depth reading about this very interesting specimen!