How to Avoid Phantom Menace Bacteria

Three Methods:Avoiding CRE at Healthcare FacilitiesProtecting Yourself At HomeUnderstanding CRE

The “Phantom Menace” bacteria are a type of antibiotic-resistant bacteria technically known as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae or CRE. The Enterobacteriaceae are a family of bacteria commonly found in the gut.[1] The CRE are dangerous because they are quite difficult to treat because they are resistance to multiple different antibiotics and are resistant to carbapenem, a drug that was originally developed to treat antibiotic-resistant bacteria. There have only been a few cases of CRE in the US. If the bacteria becomes a larger threat, there are measures you can take to ensure your safety against these antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Method 1
Avoiding CRE at Healthcare Facilities

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    Communicate with your physician. If you are hospitalized or become a patient in a healthcare facility, you are at a higher risk for CRE. To help minimize your risk, be completely honest with your physician and the nursing staff about any symptoms, previous hospitalizations, recent surgeries, drug use, medications, and medical conditions you have.[2]
    • Alert your doctor to any hospitalizations in other countries. Most of the cases of CRE come from outside of the US.[3]
    • A CRE infection can kill you, so do not be embarrassed or reluctant to share.
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    Follow directions with all medications. When you are prescribed medications, make sure to take them exactly as prescribed. This is especially important for antibiotics. Do not stop taking them because you feel better — take the full course to ensure you eradicate the bacteria and reduce the chances of developing a resistance to your antibiotics.[4]
    • Ask questions if you are not sure how to take any medications.
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    Ask others to wash their hands. You should expect all physicians, nurses, and healthcare providers to wash their hands before and after touching your body in any way. This protects not only you, but also others. If they do not do this, remind them and insist on watching them wash their hands.[5]
    • Watch to make certain that all healthcare personnel are using sterile gloves and are disposing of them after use.
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    Wash your hands. When you are being treated at a healthcare facility, working at a healthcare facility, or visiting a healthcare facility, make certain you wash your hands often before eating, before and after using the bathroom, and after performing any personal hygiene activities.[6]
    • Wash your hands for at least 20 second with warm water and soap. Make sure you get your wrists, between your fingers, and under your fingernails.
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    Remove tubing promptly. Make sure any tubing or medical devices, such as IV lines and urinary catheters, are sterile and removed as soon as possible. To do this, ask all physicians, nurses, and healthcare providers to remove your tubes as promptly as possible. Ask questions and get answers if you are not sure how long tubes or devices should remain.[7]
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    Separate yourself from CRE patients. One way to minimize the spread of CRE is to place people with CRE in separate rooms or areas. This helps reduce the risk of someone who has not been infected getting contaminated. If you are sharing a room in a health facility with someone suspected of CRE, ask to be moved to protect your health.[8]
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    Take precautions when visiting a CRE patient. If you come into contact with someone who has a CRE infection, make sure to take precautions to protect yourself. Wear protective gear, such as gloves and a gown. Before you exit the room, making sure to remove the gloves and the gown, then wash your hands properly.[9]

Method 2
Protecting Yourself At Home

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    Take antibiotics responsibly. One way to help protect yourself from the Phantom Menace bacteria, and other resistance bacteria, is to use antibiotics the right way. Most common illnesses, such as colds, the flu, most sore throats, and bronchitis, are not caused by bacteria, but viruses. This means antibiotics won’t help since antibiotics don’t treat viruses.[10]
    • Only take antibiotics when you need them, like when you have a bacterial infection.
    • Again, always take the full course of antibiotics prescribed. A common trend that creates resistant bacteria is to take the medicine until you feel better and to "save the rest" for another time. This creates opportunity for the few bacteria that might still be in your body to mutate and become resistant to the same antibiotic. It's always best to take the full course, no matter when you feel better, to make sure the infection is completely cleared.
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    Wash your hands often. Washing your hands before and after activities is one of the most effective ways to reduce the spreading of germs, including the Phantom Menace bacteria.[11] Wash your hands before and after using the bathroom, cooking, or handling any food. Wash your hands before and after touching anything that has come into contact with anyone who may be sick.[12]
    • Wash your hands, especially after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
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    Practice proper hand washing technique. To protect yourself, make sure to wash your hands properly. Use plenty of soap and water. Make sure the water is warm and that you don’t rush through it.[13]
    • Start by wetting your hands and using enough soap to cover your entire hand up to at least your wrists.
    • Rub your hands together, making sure to wash the back of your left hand with the palm of your right and vice versa. Make sure to spread your fingers and wash the webs between the fingers. Scrub for at least 20 seconds.
    • Interlock your fingers so that the backs of the fingers are against the palm of the opposite hand and rub. Grab your right thumb with your left hand and wash, using circular motions, then repeat using your right hand to grab your left thumb.
    • Rinse well with warm water. Then dry your hands thoroughly with either a single paper towel or a clean cotton towel. Don’t use a dirty, used, or soiled towel. Only use a towel that is reserved for your use.
    • Use the towel to turn off the water and to open any doors.
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    Use hand sanitizer. If you are in a situation in which you are unable to properly wash your hands, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 62% alcohol.[14]
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    Refrain from sharing infected objects. You should refrain from sharing objects with people that could possibly be infected.[15]
    • Do not share any personal care items, such as razors, towels, cosmetics, or handkerchiefs.
    • Do not touch any potentially infected objects. This includes kleenex, towels, clothing, bandages, and athletic equipment. If you have to touch them, only do so if you are wearing gloves.
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    Wear masks. Wearing masks, or asking others to wear masks, can reduce the spread of bacteria. If someone near you has a cough, cold, is sneezing, or has an obvious skin infection with reddened skin with pus-filled areas, ask them to wear a mask or cover the infected area with a bandage. Stay away from close physical contact with this person.[16]
    • If you have a cough, cold, are sneezing, or have an infection, wear a mask and cover the infected area with a bandage. Do whatever you can to reduce the amount of bacteria that are spread.
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    Clean properly. Sanitizing your home if someone is sick, or after you have had contact with a sick person, is extremely important. Clean surfaces in your home that may come into contact with contaminated materials with a 10% bleach solution for one to five minutes.[17]
    • Wash all clothing and bedding in as hot water as possible. Use bleach on bleach-safe materials and use an oxidizing agent such as Oxy-Clean on items that are not bleach-safe.
    • To make a bleach solution, mix one part bleach in nine parts water.

Method 3
Understanding CRE

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    Understand antibiotic resistance. Scientists have known for a very long time that bacteria can acquire resistance to antibiotics and that one of the forces pushing bacteria to acquire this antibiotic resistance was the overuse and misuse of antibiotics.[18] Antibiotics have been and still are used widely in food-producing animals, such as poultry, beef, and pork.
    • To some degree, resistance to antibiotics is a natural phenomenon. In a population of bacteria, there are always a few that are naturally resistant. These can survive a treatment of antibiotics, especially if a person doesn’t take the antibiotics correctly or for as long as they should have. These surviving bacteria can multiply and grow. Any person infected with these bacteria can then pass it on to others.[19]
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    Learn how antibiotic resistance is spread. There are a number of ways that antibiotic-resistant bacteria can become a serious problem.[20]
    • Animals are treated with antibiotics to increase their size or for other reasons, such as illness. Their meat is then contaminated with the antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which can then spread to humans.
    • Animal-based fertilizer containing the antibiotic-resistant bacteria are used on crops. The bacteria survive and are spread through the foods.
    • Patients and caregivers at healthcare facilities such as nursing homes, hospitals, and other health centers can be particularly susceptible to these infections and to spreading these infections.
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    Know who is at risk. Healthy people do not tend to be at risk for CRE. Those at highest risk for the bacteria are patients already in hospitals and nursing homes who are on ventilators, urinary or intravenous catheters, or who are immune compromised patients.[21] To help minimize your risk, try to promote a healthy lifestyle.

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Categories: Conditions and Treatments