So-called "nightmare bacteria" in Wisconsin facilities - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

So-called "nightmare bacteria" in Wisconsin facilities

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MILWAUKEE (WKOW) -- Cases of a bacteria resistant to the strongest of antibiotics are on the rise in the U.S., and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports state and federal officials as saying such bacteria has infected patients in at least 17 Wisconsin hospitals and long-term rehabilitation facilities.

The bacteria kill up to half of all infected patients.

The bacteria is called carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE. It has become more drug-resistant in recent years and federal officials say cases have increased more than fourfold.

CRE can also transfer antibiotic resistance to other bacteria, including E. coli.

CRE bacteria enter the bloodstream primarily through tubes placed in a large vein in a patient's neck, chest or arm, as well as through catheters and ventilators. One concern is the bacteria spreading through patients who move from institution to institution, such as from a nursing home to a hospital to a rehabilitation hospital.

The CDC says it tracked one type of CRE from a single health care facility to health care facilities in at least 42 states, including Wisconsin.

In Wisconsin, 15 hospitals and two long-term acute care facilities have reported the bacteria, with 25 people infected, since Dec. 1, 2011, when the state began surveillance for CRE.

Five people picked up the bacteria in a setting other than a hospital, according to the state Division of Public Health.

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