We’ve been hearing a lot about CRO, but what exactly is it? Carbapenem resistant organism, or CRO, are a type of bacteria that are highly resistant to many antibiotics and have earned the name ‘superbugs’. These bacteria have become the greatest threat to public health today.
Bacteria have been around for a very long time – millions of years in fact – and have developed ways to evolve and survive. One method is their ability to use plasmids, a small circular strand of extra DNA that can give the bacteria its antibiotic resistance characteristics. Plasmids are transferable between bacteria. The donor bacterium will make a photocopy and send it over to the recipient bacterium. Trading plasmids isn’t just kept between one species of bacteria. Different bacteria can frequently ‘trade’ their resistance to antibiotics with one another and create superbugs.
It’s easy to think that CRO isn’t a big deal since we’ve been privileged to grow up in an age with antibiotics. But the reality is, we’re running out of options. It’s becoming apparent that more and more antibiotics are not able to perform the tasks they were once praised for. Each new case of CRO presents additional pressure on the healthcare system. The microorganisms are very resource-intensive: frequent use of expensive antibiotics used to combat the infection, increases in the length of hospitalization, increased demand for isolation and increased need for preventative measure such as the use of gowns and gloves.
The best way to prevent CRO is by practicing proper hand hygiene at all times. Environmental control, such as disinfecting equipment, should be put in place and followed thoroughly. If need be, contact precautions with infected patients should be respected by all staff and visitors. Prevention is everyone’s duty!
For more information on CRO, watch Dr. Yves Longtin’s presentation on the IPAC intranet page