Could This Superbug Take Us All Out?

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Pretty soon we are all going to need to walk around in bubbles given how many health threats we face on a daily basis.

Especially now that there is a new threat that has been reported to be resistant to even the last-resort antibiotic. Doctors have been dreading this superbug which leaves little for reassurance that everything may be okay.

U.S. health officials this week reported the first case in the country of a patient with an infection resistant to a last-resort antibiotic. According to the officials, the superbug could pose serious danger for routine infections if it spreads.

“We risk being in a post-antibiotic world,” said Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Speaking at a National Press Club luncheaon in D.C., he said the bacteria was resistant to colistin, an antibiotic that is reserved for use against “nightmare bacteria.”

The bactria in question is that in a urinary tract infection of a 49-year-old Pennsylvania woman who had not traveled within the prior five months. Just when we thought a UTI couldn’t get more annoying.

According to a study appearing in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a publication of the American Society for Microbiology, the patient visited a clinic last month with symptoms of a urinary tract infection, which did not describe her current condition.
The superbug had first been infected with a tiny piece of DNA called a plasmid, which passed along a gene called mcr-1 that confers resistance to colistin.

“(This) heralds the emergence of truly pan-drug resistant bacteria,” said the study, which was conducted by the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of mcr-1 in the USA.”

“It is dangerous and we would assume it can be spread quickly, even in a hospital environment if it is not well contained,” said Dr. Gail Cassell, a microbiologist and senior lecturer at Harvard Medical School.

The study said continued surveillance to determine the true frequency of the gene in the United States is critical.

The potential speed of its spread will not be known until more is learned about how present the colistin-resistant superbug is in the United States and globally and how the Pennsylvania patient was infected.