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Deadly MCR-1 “Superbug” Now In The US

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A deadly superbug that health officials have long been worried about has entered the United States, researchers at the US Military HIV Research Program announced, in a report by Fox News.

The superbug, which is a strain of the E. Coli bacteria, had been previously identified in China, Canada and Europe. Researchers have identified mcr-1 positive, which is part of the deadly family of the bacteria carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae or CRE, in a urinary tract sample last month in Pennsylvania and found that this did not respond to the antibiotic colistin.

Colistin, which is the last defensive strategy against the most antibiotic-resistant bacteria, now seems to be decreasing in strength due to a transferable gene. “Colistin is one of the last efficacious antibiotics for the treatment of highly resistant bacteria. The emergence of a transferable gene that confers resistance to this vital antibiotic is extremely disturbing,” says Dr. Patrick McGann of the Organism Repository and Surveillance Network (MRSN) at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) in a news release.

The discovery of this gene in the U.S. is equally concerning, and continued surveillance to identify reservoirs of this gene within the military health care community and beyond is critical to prevent its spread.

The first transferrable gene for colistin-resistance was discovered in 2015 in China. Since then, scientists have been tracking food supplies and people for any indications of it, according to the study. The urinary tract infection sample in Pennsylvania was from a 49-year-old female patient who was being treated at a military facility. The sample was sent to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) for testing. The bacterial infection showed to be resistant to colistin, so the center sent the sample to MRSN for gene sequencing, which in turn identified the mrc-1 gene. There is no information on how the woman contracted the infection.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that infections with CRE are highly difficult to treat. A report has stated that they may even cause death in up to 50% of infected patients.

Researchers on this study have also reported that the CD and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) have identified a swine intestinal infection with a single mcr-1 positive E. Coli strain. This case and the Pennsylvania case may not have anything to do with each other, but “the evidence of the strain in the U.S. is a public health concern” that “could worsen the current global crisis of antimicrobial resistance,” says the release.

CDC Director Tom Frieden called CRE a “nightmare bacteria” at the National Press Club in Washington. “The medicine cabinet is empty for some patients. It is the end of the road unless we act urgently.”

The findings of the study were published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

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