New strains of bacteria that have become increasingly resistant to antibiotics are being labeled "nightmare bacteria" as doctors remain powerless to fight the microscopic tormentors.
On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control revealed that strains of highly resistant bacteria infected patients in 4 percent of U.S. hospitals in the first half of last year and a whopping 18 percent in specialized hospitals.
"Our strongest antibiotics don't work and patients are left with potentially untreatable infections," Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a statement.
He stressed that doctors, hospitals and public health officials need to work closer together in order to be able to stop the super-bacteria from spreading.
The CDC cautioned that the rise of new strains of resistant bacteria is not a new phenomenon, and that over the past decade, there has been a dramatic increase of hospitalized patients who have been infected with the bacteria.
Doctors have stated the new strains are called Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), which kill up to half of patients who get bloodstream infections from them, according to a recent CDC report.
The bacteria belong to the Enterobacteriaceae family, which includes more than 70 species that can survive in varied environments including water, soil and the human digestive system.
In the past decade, doctors have noticed that many species of Enterobacteriaceae have become resistant to most, if not all types of antibiotics currently available, including the very powerful and worst-case scenario drugs known as carbapenems.
The percentage of Enterobacteriaceae that have developed resistant strains to all types of antibiotics increased more than 400 percent, with the CDC explaining that one particular harsh strand, which is associated with Klebsiella pneumoniae, has seen a sevenfold increase in the number of cases just in the past 10 years.
Doctors and health officials stress that patients should wash their hands often as well as those who come in contact with them. They also advise that all patients follow doctor's orders when taking prescription drugs.