Antibiotic-Resistant Superbug Found in the USA

The superbug resistant even to "antibiotics of last resort" is a strain of E. coli, pictured above. (Photo: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The superbug resistant even to "antibiotics of last resort" is a strain of E. coli, pictured above. (Photo: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently stated that a superbug, reported to have been discovered in a US woman, could mean the "end of the road" for antibiotics.

A 49-year-old woman from Pennsylvania went to a military outpatient clinic on April 26, 2016 due to a urinary tract infection. When treated for the infection, doctors discovered that she was resistant to all antibiotics, including Colistin, an antibiotic of last resort that's given to people when treating what are known as "superbugs" - highly resistant strains of bacteria. 

This strain of superbug was later discovered in individual cases in Europe and Canada. Back in November 2015, health officials were alarmed by a number of cases reported from China and from a colistin-resistant strain of bacteria found in some pigs. 

Other patients in the aforementioned Pennsylvania clinic were tested and found negative for the strain of colistin-resistant bacteria. The woman reported to have the superbug had not traveled within the past 5 months, so it's unclear if this superbug is be present within her local community. 

Thomas Frieden, chief of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is reported to have stated that the arrival of the superbug on US soil, "basically shows us that the end of the road isn't very far away for antibiotics—that we may be in a situation where we have patients in our intensive-care units, or patients getting urinary tract infections for which we do not have antibiotics."

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The rise of such superbugs can be contributed to the overprescription of antibiotics by physicians and in hospitals. The use of antibiotics in agricultural livestock also plays a significant role in the crisis of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Al Jazeera reported that within the US, antibiotic resistant bacteria have been cited as the source for over 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths. 

Furthermore, the National Resources Defense Council found that more than 70% of antibiotics sold in the US end up going to livestock and are given to animals who are not even sick, but rather as preventative measures and to promote quicker growth.

Article by: Rajmani Sinclair, May 31, 2016