Health officials in Minnesota say they're stepping up their efforts to battle new antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
The latest strain of concern are called CRE, a bacteria resistant to a class of antibiotics known as carbapenem. Minnesota has identified 44 cases of infections by the CRE superbug.
The antibiotics used to combat CRE are some of the most powerful antibiotics available and considered a drug of last resort for some infections.
State epidemiologist Ruth Lynfield says superbugs are gaining resistance faster than new drugs are coming on the market.
"It's really important that the pharmaceutical industry continue to develop new antibiotics. It takes about 10 years to get a new antibiotic on line. So there's really great concern that we're getting closer to a post-antibiotic era," Lynfield said.
Lynfield says wise use of existing drugs is also key, and her office has posted appropriate guidelines online.
"It will have implications beyond this superbug," she said. "We are really trying hard to promote antibiotic stewardship. This September we launched a campaign, whereby we are hoping that every hospital in Minnesota will have an antibiotic stewardship program.
Lynfield said regular infection control, like handwashing and isolation of patients, is also a key preventive measure.