Deadly superbug found at Milwaukee hospital

CREATED Jul 15, 2013 - UPDATED: Jul 15, 2013

  • Print
  • Video by wtmj.com

    video

MILWAUKEE - A patient at Aurora Sinai is infected with a deadly superbug bacteria. It's especially hard to treat because the bacteria has a high level of resistance to antibiotics.

 

It's a bug called Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE

It's so serious it kills half of the people who get it. Officials believe it’s not the first case in southeast Wisconsin.

"I’m pretty sure it's not,” explains Dr. Bruce Van Cleave of Aurora Health Care. “We think there've been 18 cases in the state in the last year. So it's rare, but this is not the first one.”

The Wisconsin Department of Health tells TODAY’S TMJ4 that hospitals in southeast Wisconsin have had 33 patients with CRE since December 2011.

The people at highest risk are people with compromised immune systems.  That includes people who have had organ transplants, are on a ventilator or use a catheter.

“It has spread - the last two years we've been much more concerned about it in the state, and the State Health Department is working very hard to make sure we identify quickly all the cases that we can so that it can be prevented,” explains Dr. Van Cleave.

He says it was first identified in the U.S. in 1999.

Doctors explain that  washing your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds can help prevent the spread of CRE.

It's only spread by direct contact, and healthy people don't usually get this infection.

Doctors wouldn't comment on how the patient is doing because of privacy laws.

They claim you're more likely to get CRE if you travel or get healthcare outside of the U.S. However they wouldn't tell TODAY’S TMJ4 whether that's the case with this patient.