US HEALTH officials last Thursday (26) reported the first case in the country of a patient with an infec- tion resistant to all known antibiot- ics, and expressed concern that the superbug could pose serious danger for routine infections if it spreads
“We risk being in a post-antibiot- ic world,” said Thomas Frieden, di- rector of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, referring to the urinary tract infection of a 49-year-old Pennsylvania woman who had not travelled within the prior five months.
Frieden said the infection was not controlled even by colistin, an antibiotic that is reserved for use against “nightmare bacteria.”
The infection was reported last Thursday in a study appearing in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemo- therapy, a publication of the Ameri- can Society for Microbiology. It said the superbug itself had first been infected with a tiny piece of DNA called a plasmid, which passed along a gene called mcr-1 that con- fers resistance to colistin.
“(This) heralds the emergence of truly pan-drug resistant bacteria,” said the study, which was conduct- ed 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.”
In the United States, antibiotic resistance has been blamed for at least two million illnesses and 23,000 deaths annually.
The mcr-1 gene was found last year in people and pigs in China, raising alarm.
The potential for the superbug to spread from animals to people is a major concern, said Dr Gail Cassell, a microbiologist and senior lecturer at Harvard Medical School.