New superbug on the loose

A powerful new superbug is on the loose -- and this one could be the deadliest yet.

It's a strain of Enterobacteriaceae called the CRE infection that kills half of everyone who gets infected -- a statistic so alarming that CDC chief Tom Frieden dubbed it the "nightmare bacteria."

You know I'm not one to play along with every CDC panic attack. (If you want a good laugh...or maybe I should say a cry... you've got to read about the last time the CDC got its knickers in a here for the whole sorted story.) But in this case, "nightmare" is the perfect description, because a CRE infection can resist just about everything they've thrown at it.

It can even resist carbapenems, the "last resort" antibiotics doctors turn to after they've tried all the other drugs.

The CDC warning says this bug has turned up in at least 42 states so far. In the first six months of 2012, infections were reported in 18 percent of the nation's long-term acute care hospitals and 4 percent of all short-stay hospitals.

The fear now is that the CRE infectionwill break out of hospitals and care facilities and find its way into train stations, schools, playgrounds, supermarkets, and everywhere else.

Maybe it already has.

The problem with superbugs isn't simply exposure. CRE, MRSA, C-diff, and all the rest won't cause infections in most people right away.

Instead, they move into your gut and lay low. They don't have much of a choice, because a healthy gut contains enough good bacteria to control the bad ones -- even the superbugs.

The real problems come later, when you get sick with something else and take an antibiotic drug. The drug might wipe out that MRSA, C-diff or CRE infection (or it might not), but it also wipes out the good bacteria that were protecting you from the bad ones.

And that's when the superbugs break loose -- and you get sick or even die.