Drug Resistant E. coli Emerging as Serious Threat

We’ve long been reporting on infectious disease resistance and how resistance occurs due to antibiotic overuse and abuse. Sadly, an emerging and very dangerous strain of <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/food_poisoning">drug resistant E. coli is sickening people in the United States, Reuters wrote.

The new strain—ST131—is posing a serious threat to public health, said doctors, according to Reuters. Also many of the E. coli infections found to be antibiotic resistant have been in the fluoroquinolone and cephalosporin classes of antibiotics, said researchers, wrote Reuters.

“If this strain gains one additional resistance gene, it will become almost untreatable and will be a true superbug, which is a very concerning scenario,” said Dr. James Johnson of the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis, quoted Reuters; Dr. Johnson led the study. According to Dr. Johnson and colleagues, who were writing in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, strain ST131 turned up in a variety of countries and in the U.S.

When antibiotics are overused or misused, bacteria mutate, changing just enough to ensure drugs have no effect on them and allowing them a wide berth to spread with increasing power. Although tempting, preventative antibiotic regimes only worsen the epidemic, strengthening the bacteria. New drugs are not immune because, as new drugs surface, it’s a matter of time before super bugs become resistant to them, too.

The research team tested samples derived from 127 patients with E. coli that were resistant to robust, “extended-spectrum” cephalosporin and fluoroquinolone antibiotics back in 2007, wrote Reuters. Genetic tests indicted nearly half—54—were from strain ST131. Samples amounted to 17 percent of the total, but comprised 44 percent of the drug-resistant isolates. Worse, they accounted for more than half of all of the samples found to be resistant to at least two drugs, with the vast majority—70 percent—of the strain resistant to fluoroquinolones or extended-spectrum cephalosporins, said Reuters.

Antibiotic use for the treatment of a wide array of conditions and in hospitalized patients, is on the rise, said Reuters. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), two million Americans develop bacterial infections during hospital stays annually, with 70 percent resistant to at least one antibiotic, said Reuters previously.

Dr. Johnson said the source and transmission pattern of the ST131 remains unknown. “If we could discover the sources of this strain, the transmission pathways that allow it to spread so effectively, and the factors that have led to its rapid emergence, we could find ways to intervene and possibly slow or halt this strain’s emergence,” Dr. Johnson said, quoted Reuters. “A single E. coli clonal group, ST131, probably caused the most significantly antimicrobial-resistant E. coli infections in the United States in 2007, thereby constituting an important new public health threat,” Dr. Johnson and colleagues wrote, quoted Reuters. “Urgent investigation of the sources and transmission pathways of ST131 is needed to inform mitigation efforts,” added Dr. Johnson.

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