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what is this new superbug cre

The ‘‘superbug’’ infection at the heart of an outbreak at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles is sometimes called “the nightmare bacteria” because it’s so resistant to antibiotics.

Two deaths at the California medical center are linked to the bacteria, known as CRE, or carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae. Five other patients are infected and nearly 200 may have been exposed, the center says. Exposure stemmed from two contaminated instruments used during procedures done over the past few months at the facility.

CRE is in a family of bacteria that are normally found in the gut and have become resistant to antibiotics. They are resistant to most of the available antibiotics, says Stephen Calderwood, MD. He’s the president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and chief of the infectious disease division at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

The devices linked with the UCLA outbreak, known as duodenoscopes, are used in more than 500,000 procedures a year in the U.S., according to the CDC.