Quantcast
Connect with us

Infection experts warn of more US superbug cases in coming months

Published

on

After two confirmed U.S. cases of a superbug that thwarts a last-resort antibiotic, infectious disease experts say they expect more cases in coming months because the bacterial gene behind it is likely far more widespread than previously believed.

Army scientists in May reported finding E. coli bacteria that harbor a gene which renders the antibiotic colistin useless. The gene, called mcr-1, was found in a urine sample of a Pennsylvania woman being treated for a urinary tract infection.

ADVERTISEMENT

On Monday, researchers confirmed preliminary findings that E. coli carrying the same mcr-1 gene were found in a stored bacterial sample of a New York patient who had been treated for an infection last year, as well as in patient samples from nine other countries.

The report came from a global effort called the SENTRY Antimicrobial Surveillance Program, led by Mariana Castanheira of JMI Laboratories based in North Liberty, Iowa.

The mcr-1 superbug has been identified over the past six months in farm animals and people in about 20 countries, including China, Germany and Italy.

The bacteria can be transmitted by fecal contact and poor hygiene, which suggests a far wider likely presence than the documented cases so far, according to leading infectious disease experts.

ADVERTISEMENT

Health officials fear the mcr-1 gene, carried by a highly mobile piece of DNA called a plasmid, will soon be found in bacteria already resistant to all or virtually all other types of antibiotics, potentially making infections untreatable.

“You can be sure (mcr-1) is already in the guts of people throughout the United States and will continue to spread,” said Dr. Brad Spellberg, professor of medicine at the University of Southern California.   

Dr. David Van Duin, an infectious disease expert at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, said he expects more documented U.S. cases of mcr-1 in coming months because it is already here and will spread from abroad. “We will see a lot more of this gene.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Colistin causes kidney damage, but doctors have opted for it as other antibiotics increasingly fail. Its overuse, especially in overseas farm animals, has allowed bacteria to develop resistance to it.

PAST AND PRESENT INFECTIONS

To track the mcr-1 gene, U.S. hospitals are working together with state and federal agencies to test bacteria samples of patients that have recently been treated for infections. Many of the largest research hospitals are examining samples of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that have long been stored in their freezers.

ADVERTISEMENT

Gautam Dantas, associate professor of pathology at Washington University Medical Center in St. Louis, has tested hundreds of U.S. samples of archived bacteria in recent months and has not yet detected mcr-1. But he expects dozens of confirmed cases of the gene will be documented by next year in the country, mostly among current patients.

The concern of many disease experts is that mcr-1 could soon show up in bacteria also resistant to carbapenems, one of the few remaining dependable classes of antibiotics. In that event, with colistin no longer a last-ditch option, some patients would have to rely on their immune systems to fight off infection.

“Within the next two to three years, it’s going to be fairly routine for infections to occur in the United States for which we have no (effective) drugs available,” Dantas said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Castanheira also believes mcr-1 will find its way into carbapenem-resistant bacteria, formally known as carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE).

In an interview, she said the resulting virtually impervious bacterium would likely spread slowly inside the United States because CRE themselves are not yet widespread in the country, giving drugmakers some time to create new antibiotics. 

Beginning in August, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will use $21 million to expand surveillance at laboratories operated by all 50 state health departments and seven larger regional labs. The federal funding will help pay for more-sensitive equipment to test for antibiotic resistance in bacteria samples provided by hospitals.

ADVERTISEMENT

Jean Patel, deputy director of the CDC’s Office of Antimicrobial Resistance, said the effort will provide the CDC improved national surveillance of antibiotic-resistance trends, including any spread of mcr-1.

“This is data for action,” she said, adding that special procedures to prevent infections from spreading in hospitals could be taken once a patient is identified with mcr-1 related infections or with multidrug-resistant bacteria.

(Reporting by Ransdell Pierson; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

ADVERTISEMENT

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and legal efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. And unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



Report typos and corrections to: [email protected]. Send news tips to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Facebook

GOP lawmaker cut the mic on black woman’s facts — but let white men spew ‘lunacy and lies’: report

Published

on

The Republican chair of a Tennessee legislative committee is under fire for cutting off the microphone while a woman of color was speaking -- but allowing white men to spew "lunacy."

"It took all of five minutes for Sen. Mike Bell, chairman of the Tennessee General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee, to prove Cherisse Scott’s point. Scott is founder and CEO of Sister Reach, a Memphis organization that fights for reproductive freedom and health for rural women and girls of color struggling with poverty," Memphis Commercial Appeal columnist Tonyaa Weathersbee explained.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Here’s why Jeffrey Epstein surrounded himself with scientists

Published

on

The list of confidants and friends who were fêted by the late financier and alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein included a number of prominent scientists. Among the eye-popping names that appeared on the list: the late cosmologist Stephen Hawking, Nobel-winning physicist Murray Gell-Mann, evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould, physicist Frank Wilczek, neurologist Oliver Sacks, and geneticist George M. Church.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Trump just humiliated his own son with an absurd tweet about Greenland

Published

on

President Donald Trump confirmed multiple reports this weekend when he said that he does, indeed, hope to buy Greenland and make it part of the United States.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has said that the country, which is part of the Kingdom of Denmark, is “not for sale”: “Greenland belongs to Greenland.” Which should be the end of the story. Unfortunately, it’s not.

On Monday, Trump sent the following tweet, apparently trying to quell suspicions that the president just regards Greenland as another place to expand his business empire:

Continue Reading
 
 

Thank you for whitelisting Raw Story!

As a special thank you, from now until August 31st, we're offering you a discounted rate of $5.99/month to subscribe and get ad-free access. We're honored to have you as a reader. Thank you. :) —Elias, Membership Coordinator
LEARN MORE
close-link
close-image