JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Federal health officials use the word nightmare when describing an antibiotic resistant infection that's on the rise across the nation.
Infectious disease professionals say the bacteria has always been there but this so called super bug is becoming almost impossible to treat.
"Overtime they have mutated to new resistance making them almost impossible to treat," says Paul Lewis, an infectious disease pharmacist at Johnson City Medical Center.
Infectious disease experts blame the spread on the over prescribing of common antibiotics. They say doctors often write prescriptions for antibiotics to treat the symptoms of a viral illness, however, the medication does not treat the actual illness.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning this week about the spread nationwide.
Forty-two states are reporting problems mainly at hospitals and long-term care facilities.
"It only happens in patients who have been treated with multiple antibiotics, 5,6, or 7 rounds and usually have infections that are persistent," says Lewis.
The Regional Health Office in Johnson City says 14 cases have been reported in Tennessee this year but none were from our area.
Looking at the numbers from the past two years, Tennessee reported 221 last year and 392 in 2011, but officials stress it's the sickest patients who most often develop the infection..
"The average individual at home is not at risk of these organisms," says Lewis.
The sudden concern is because the pharmaceutical companies are not focusing on drugs that will kill the bacteria.
"We don't have a lot of new antibiotics in development," Lewis explains, "in the past the answer as been lets develop new antibiotics. There are not any antibiotics in development that will treat these organisms."
Why? Experts say antibiotics are not as profitable.