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CRE (Carbapenem Resistant Enterobacteriaceae)

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jun 5, 2024.

What are carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE)?

CRE are a group of bacteria that are very difficult to kill when they cause infection. Examples include E. coli and klebsiella. CRE often cause lung, urinary tract, wound, and blood infections. Carbapenems are a group of antibiotics that treat bacterial infections. In CRE infections, the bacteria release chemicals that prevent carbapenems from killing them. This is called antibiotic resistance. CRE infections can become difficult to cure and can spread to other parts of the body. CRE infections that get into the blood can be life-threatening.

What is the difference between CRE colonization and CRE infection?

CRE colonization means that CRE can be found in the body, but are not causing infection. CRE infection happens when CRE travel to parts of the body that do not normally have bacteria there. These areas include the bladder, lungs, and blood.

Who is at risk for CRE infection?

Most people usually do not get an infection after exposure to CRE. You may be at higher risk for CRE infection if you have any of the following:

How are CRE spread?

CRE can spread from person to person through contact with an infected person's wound, bowel movements, urine, or sputum. CRE can be spread if a person touches an object that has CRE and touches another person. Stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs, and thermometers can spread CRE from one patient to another if they are not cleaned correctly. CRE can get into the body through medical devices such as a ventilator (breathing machine), urinary catheter, or IV catheter. Poor handwashing is a major reason for the spread of CRE.

What are the signs and symptoms of CRE infection?

The signs and symptoms of CRE infection depend on which body part is infected. You may have any of the following:

How are CRE colonization and infection diagnosed?

You may need separate tests to check for colonization and infection:

How is CRE treated?

You will not need treatment if you have CRE in your body but are not infected. If CRE is causing an infection, you may need any of the following:

How do healthcare providers prevent the spread of CRE?

How can I help prevent the spread of CRE?

When should I call my doctor?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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