U.S. reports first case of bacteria resistant to antibiotic of last resort

The Washington Post reports: For the first time, researchers have found a person in the United States carrying bacteria resistant to antibiotics of last resort, an alarming development that the top U.S. public health official says could mean “the end of the road” for antibiotics.

The antibiotic-resistant strain was found last month in the urine of a 49-year-old Pennsylvania woman. Defense Department researchers determined that she carried a strain of E. coli resistant to the antibiotic colistin, according to a study published Thursday in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a publication of the American Society for Microbiology. The authors wrote that the discovery “heralds the emergence of a truly pan-drug resistant bacteria.”

Colistin is the antibiotic of last resort for particularly dangerous types of superbugs, including a family of bacteria known as CRE, which health officials have dubbed “nightmare bacteria.” In some instances, these superbugs kill up to 50 percent of patients who become infected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called CRE among the country’s most urgent public health threats.

Health officials said the case in Pennsylvania, by itself, is not cause for panic. The strain found in the woman is still treatable with other antibiotics. But researchers worry that its colistin-resistance gene, known as mcr-1, could spread to other bacteria that can already evade other antibiotics. [Continue reading…]

The Guardian reports: Nearly one-third of Americans prescribed antibiotics during doctor’s office visits probably should not have received the drugs, were not given a long enough course or did not get the right dose, according to new research.

The new study into how doctors prescribe antibiotics to Americans in outpatient settings comes as rates of antibiotic resistant bacterial infections are on the rise. Up to 23,000 Americans die and 2 million more become sick due to antibiotic resistant bacteria each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and scientists have found rates of such infections on the rise.

“This study shows that there certainly is a lot more work to be done,” said Dr Katherine E Fleming-Dutra, a CDC researcher and lead author on the study. “It is so critical to preserve antibiotics for the future, to make sure they work.”

The study of 184,032 visits, titled Prevalence of Antibiotic Prescriptions Among US Ambulatory Care Visits, 2010-2011 and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, comes as a White House panel of experts convened to work on the issue push doctors to halve the prescribing of antibiotics in such settings by 2020. [Continue reading…]

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