‘Phantom menace’ superbug on the rise in United States, CDC warns

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

(Fox 8 file photo)

ATLANTA, Ga.– Cases of a dangerous superbug, nicknamed the “phantom menace,” are on the rise in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control announced in a report last week.

The bacteria is a carbapenem-resistant enterobactericeae, or CRE, meaning it is resistant to most types of antibiotics and results in high mortality rates.

“This is a tricky drug-resistant bacteria, and it isn’t easily found,” CDC Director Thomas Frieden told The Washington Post. “What we’re seeing is an assault by the microbes on the last bastion of antibiotics.”

Scientists are calling it the “phantom menace” because it’s not easily detected and it’s not included in standard testing.

“History shows that these mobile resistance genes can spread around the world quickly, silently riding in people, animals and food,” said Lance Price, director of the Antibiotic Resistance Action Center at George Washington University’s Milken Institute of Public Health.

There was one case of the “phantom menace” in the U.S. in 2010, and 11 patients each year for 2013, 2014 and 2015, the CDC said. It’s been reported in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Pennsylvania, but not Ohio.

The CDC report does not list the symptoms of this particular CRE.

“Common Enterobacteriaceae include Klebsiella species and Escherichia coli (E. coli). These germs are found in normal human intestines (gut). Sometimes these bacteria can spread outside the gut and cause serious infections, such as urinary tract infections, bloodstream infections, wound infections, and pneumonia. Enterobacteriaceae can cause infections in people in both healthcare and community settings,” the CDC said.