Three States Report Drug-Resistant Super Bug

We have long been writing about drug resistance, specifically antibiotic resistance, and how this worrisome trend is becoming more than just worrisome. Antibiotic drug resistance implications are dangerous, deadly, and upon us. Now, according to the Associated Press (AP) and a variety of other news sources, a new gene has emerged that can turn a variety of bacteria into <"">super bugs that are nearly fully drug resistant.

We recently wrote that reports out of MSNBC, Reuters and the AP discussed that patients returning to Britain who visited India for cosmetic surgery brought back the nefarious new gene. Scientists warn that this particular drug resistance could go global, affecting people not just in India, where it has become widespread. Now, it seems the resistance has done just that with people in three states in the US and two in Canada falling ill and global reports of similar illnesses, said the AP.

The cases reported in the US and Canada involve people who recently received medical care in India, said the AP. Last month, a British medical journal wrote that dozens of cases in the UK had been reported following visits to India for medical procedures, noted the AP.

Because there is no central tracking for these cases, there are no confirmed figures on illnesses and deaths, said the AP. What is known is that the gene has, to date, been found in bacteria that causes gut or urinary tract infections, said the AP. NDM-1 was named after New Delhi, said the AP.

The notion of a widespread, global drug resistant bacteria has long concerned the scientific and medical community, said the AP, explaining that this gene is adaptable and can hook onto a variety of ubiquitous germs to create a broad resistance to an array of medications. The super bug gene can switch between other bacteria, which is how the multi-resistance occurs.

“It’s a great concern,” because drug resistance continues to increase and there is a dearth of new antibiotics, said Dr. M. Lindsay Grayson, director of infectious diseases at the University of Melbourne in Australia, quoted the AP. “It’s just a matter of time” Dr, Grayson added, until the gene becomes more widespread. Dr. Grayson is also the lead at the American Society for Microbiology conference in Boston.

According to Brandi Limbago, lab chief at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), three bacteria were involved; three separate “mechanisms” enabled the gene to infiltrate them; and cases have been reported from three states: California, Massachusetts, and Illinois, wrote the AP.

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.

Because antibiotics can add to the problem, patients and physicians are advised to be cautious when prescribing, requesting, and taking antibiotics. And, because the gene spreads hand-to-mouth, diligent hygiene is called for.

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