FORT MYERS, Fla. - The Center for Disease Control has only identified CRE in the United States since 2012. The concern, especially here in Florida, is that there could be an outbreak at long term care facilities like a nursing home. However, the Florida Department of Health in Lee County is part of a new initiative, the first in the state, that hopes to be proactive instead of reactive.
"We don't have any good data yet, and that's the point of this collaborative, is to figure that out," says Jennifer Roth with the Florida Department of Health in Lee County.
Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae, also known as CRE, is a bacteria that's resistent to antibiotics and can be deadly. The disease is so strong, the treatments can be toxic.
"They can be very rough on the kidneys, they can be very rough on the liver," says Alexis Price, an RN with Lee Memorial Hospital.
Price goes on to describe the quarentine process when patients are infected with CRE, "So anything that goes into a patients room, is going to stay in the patients room and not have an opportunity to go somewhere else"
Part of the problem is that health officials have no idea how common it is in the state of Florida, or even nation wide.
"Because it has not be required to be reported by the CDC, we're not sure what levels are here," says Roth.
Bacteria like CRE are mostly found in long term care facilties like nursing homes. Health officials hope a new initiative will create a database that tells them when an infection happens, where, and even what led up to it.
They're asking for hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities to start reporting if someone falls ill or even dies of the super bug.
Roth says, "So we're hoping to get a large percentage of nursing homes and hospitals signed up, so that way we get a fuller picture of what's happening."
There has yet to be an outbreak in Southwest Florida, and officials hope to keep it that way.
Skillled nursing facilities interested in joining the Southwest Florida CRE Collaborative should call the Florida Department of Health in Lee County at 239-332-9580.