UK finds deadly bacteria with MCR-1 gene resistant to ‘last resort’ antibiotic

By @ritwikroy1985 on
Antibiotics
World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Margaret Chan attends a news conference on the results of a multi-country survey on antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance, during the launch of a new global campaign, in Geneva, Switzerland, November 16, 2015. Reuters/Pierre Albouy

After Denmark found the treatment-resistant bacteria containing the MCR-1 gene, it’s UK’s turn now. The bacteria, resistant to even ‘last resort’ antibiotic colistin, is capable of causing a global epidemic where it would be impossible to cure infections caused by the superbug.

At least two National Health Service (NHS) patients have been found to be infected with E. coli and salmonella and they can’t be treated with colistin, the antibiotic that doctors turn to when all other antibiotics fail.

According to Independent, the China and Europe superbug was found by Public Health England in samples of human infections and on three farms. The untreatable bacteria can spread at a rapid rate between species that can result in a super-resistant epidemic. However, Professor Alan Johnson from Public Health England said that the health risks associated with the bacteria strain is still low, although it is a matter of review as more information about the MCR-1 gene containing bacteria comes to light.

“The organisms identified can be killed by cooking your food properly and all the bacteria we identified with this gene were responsive to other antibiotics, called carbapenems. We will monitor this closely, and will provide any further public advice as needed,” Professor Johnson said.

Last month, China found the deadly bacteria but doctors in UK thought it would take at least three years to be detected in the country. They have been proven wrong when 24,000 bacterial samples taken from the period 2012 to 2015 were tested by Public Health England. Unfortunately, they found an alarming 15 cases of antibiotic resistance, more specifically, colistin resistance, reports Mirror.co.uk.

Colistin, also known as the “last resort” antibiotic, is widely used in agriculture to prevent diseases in animals and to fatten pigs. Experts have warned of colistin overuse in agriculture as it can make the situation worse. In order to stop the spread of untreatable bacteria to humans, campaigners have called for a ban on colistin usage on farm animals.

Scientific adviser to the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, Cóilín Nunan said that the European Commission, the government and regulatory bodies such as Veterinary Medicines Directorate must respond to the issue immediately.

“The routine preventative use in farming of colistin, and all antibiotics important in human medicine, needs to be banned immediately,” he told The Telegraph.

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