‘Superbug’ resistant to last-resort antibiotic discovered by chance

px Staphylococcus aureus bacteria escape
S. aureus bacteria escaping destruction by human white blood cells (CREDIT: National Institutes of Health via Wikimedia Commons).

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The woman harboring E. coli resistant to colistin did not know it, and it’s only luck that we do. Her doctor would have never prescribed that last-resort antibiotic for a routine urinary tract infection—it can cause serious kidney damage. But her doctor did take a urine sample, which ended up at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where researchers had recently started testing for colistin resistance. The test came back positive. Then came scary headlines about a new superbug in the US.

Superbugs are bacteria with genetic mutations that let them survive humanity’s harshest weapons in germ warfare: antibiotics. The gene behind this E. coli’s colistin resistance is called mcr-1. It first emerged when Chinese researchers found it in samples from hospital patients and raw pork. Why pork? Colistin’s serious side effects mean it’s no longer used as a human antibiotic in many countries. But in China, farmers have been adding it by the pound into feed to fatten animals up.

Read full, original post: That new superbug was found in a UTI and that’s key

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