The carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE superbug) may rest in the body of those infected for up to 387 days.
Patients who tested positive to CRE took an average of 387 days after they were discharged from the hospital to be clear of the organism, said a new study published in the March issue of the American Journal of Infection Control, the official publication of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).
The study that led to the new findings was conducted in the Shaare Zedek Medical Center, a 700-bed university-affiliated general hospital in Jerusalem, Israel where the research team analyzed follow up tests from 97 CRE-positive patients.
"The average time until cultures became negative was 387 days. At three months, 78 percent of patients remained culture positive; at six months, 65 percent remained positive; at nine months, 51 percent, and at one year 39 percent of patients remained positive, meaning they could potentially become re-infected or transmit the germ to others," the Science Daily wrote.
The factors associated with the extended carriage included the number of hospitalization days, if and how often a patient was re-hospitalized and whether the patient had an active infection or a colonization without symptoms.
The study says that, "Patients with multiple hospitalizations or those who were diagnosed with clinical CRE disease should be assumed to have a more extended duration of CRE coverage and should therefore be admitted under conditions of isolation and cohorting until proven to be CRE-negative. These measures will reduce the hospitalization of CRE-positive patients among the general patient population, potentially preventing the spread of CRE."
CRE infections are very difficult to treat and have been associated with mortality rates as high as 40-50% according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.