Bacteria resistant to 'last-resort' antibiotics found for the first time in U.S.

Right up there with climate change and increased water scarcity is the issue of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and one particularly terrible variety of it — bacteria resistant to so-called 'last resort' antibiotics, the very last-ditch solutions for resistant bugs. Now, for the first time, researchers have discovered this super-resistant bacteria in the United States, and they fear a gene in it (mcr-1) could spread to other types of bacteria.

The superbug was found in the urine of a 49-ear-old woman from Pennsylvania, and it is a type of E coli that is resistant to a last-resort antibiotic called colistin. Fortunately for her, the particular strain she has can be treated with a different assortment of antibiotics, and officials caution that the public shouldn't panic.

Bacteria resistant to colistin has previously been found in several other regions, including Canada and South America, Europe, China, and Africa. Its newly arrived presence in the U.S. underscores the further proliferation of one of the modern world's greatest health threats and, according to CDC Direct Tom Frieden:

It basically shows us that the end of the road isn't very far away for antibiotics — that we may be in a situation where we have patients in our intensive-care units, of patients getting urinary tract infections for which we do not have antibiotics.

Colistin-resistant bacteria has been discovered in meat samples in the U.S., among other places. The USDA in particular found this type of bacteria in a pig's intestines, but it isn't currently known where that pig originated from. For now, the Centers for Disease Control are attempting to figure out where the aforementioned woman may have contracted the bacteria.

SOURCE: Washington Post