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Resistance genes found making bacteria impervious to all antibiotics

| | November 19, 2015
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Well that’s ironic. As if to mark World Antiobiotic Awareness Week, antibiotic resistance just got a whole lot scarier. Resistance genes identified in China suggests we could soon see bacteria that are resistant to every known type of antibiotic, and these genes have already been found in bacteria infecting people.

Until now, a type of bacteria known as Gram negative have remained susceptible to one particular class of antibiotics, called polymyxins. These have become known as “last resort” antibiotics, increasingly used to treat infections that resist every other kind.

In 2012, the World Health Organisation classified colistin, the most widely used polymyxin, as being critically important for human health. But that didn’t stop farmers around the world, especially in China, from using large quantities of colistin to fatten up pigs and chickens.

Now Yi-Yun Liu at the South China Agricultural University in Guangzhou and colleagues have discovered the first known resistance gene for colistin that is able to move freely from one bacterium to another.

Alarmingly, they found that this gene is already widespread in southern China, turning up in 15 percent of meat samples and 21 percent of animals routinely tested between 2011 and 2014. Even worse, this resistance gene has already started to appear in human infections. Out of 1,322 blood, urine and other samples from hospitals in two states of Southern China, the team found the gene in 16 cases.

Read full, original post: Bacteria now resistant even to ‘last resort’ antibiotics

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