Jan/san distributors and cleaning professionals are no strangers to terms like Norovirus, VRE and MRSA. These superbugs have plagued the industry for years. More recently there’s been heavy focus on C. diff because of its cleaning challenges.
Unfortunately, there is another superbug for distributors to put on the radar of their environmental services customers: carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae or simply CRE. So far this bacteria has only been found in hospitals and nursing homes because it typically infects people receiving treatment for another illness or those who have been taking antibiotics for a long period of time. CRE is commonly spread through contact with open wounds or stool.  

It’s unknown how many people have been infected by CRE because hospitals aren’t required to report these cases; however, infected patients have been confirmed in at least 42 states. What’s truly alarming is CRE’s ability to share its resistance with common bacteria, which could make afflictions such as diarrhea and urinary tract infections untreatable. In addition, CRE infections have a high mortality rate — up to 50 percent — so this superbug is a lot deadlier than C. diff or MRSA.

As with any superbug, it’s paramount that hospital doctors, nurses and visitors wash their hands (and for the recommended 15 seconds). Distributors can make sure customers are keeping soap and hand sanitizer dispensers well stocked. In addition, rooms with CRE-infected patients need to be cleaned and disinfected more often and custodians should focus on touch points, including bed rails, charts, doorknobs and privacy curtains.

Hospitals are being urged to contain patients infected with CRE, but this should apply to cleaning tools used in these rooms, too. Dispose of or disinfect these products after patient discharge.