MICROBIOLOGY, PUBLIC HEALTH
Any of the enterobacteriaceae–e.g., Klebsiella pneumoniae, Escherichia coli–which are resistant to carbapenem*, one of the last broad-spectrum antibiotic to which antibiotic resistant bacteria had previously been susceptible. CRE kill up to half of the patients it infects, especially those with ventilators or indwelling catheters.
*Via a plasmid transferrable beta-lactamase carried by an increasing number of strains of Klebsiella pneumoniae as well as other Enterobacteriaceae. Hydrolysis of the beta-lactam ring renders many of the antibiotics–in particular extended spectrum cephalosporins and carbapenems: imipenem, meropenem, and ertapenem–ineffective
Synonyms CRE superbug, nightmare bacteria, carbapenemase-carrying Klebsiella pneumoniae
References JAMA 2013; 309:1593-1594