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Bacteria resistant to last-resort antibiotic appears in U.S.

Gene from E. coli strain could spread to other bacteria

By
6:03pm, May 27, 2016
E. coli

SUPERBUG A strain of E. coli resistant to the antibiotic colistin has infected a woman in Pennsylvania (3-D rendering of an E. coli bacteria shown).

A last-ditch weapon against drug-resistant bacteria has met its match in Pennsylvania.

A 49-year-old woman has tested positive for a strain of Escherichia coli resistant to the antibiotic colistin, researchers report May 26 in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

It’s the first time in the United States that scientists have found bacteria carrying a gene for colistin resistance known as mrc-1, write study coauthor Patrick McGann of Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Md., and colleagues.

But perhaps even more alarming is that the gene rides on a transferable loop of DNA called a plasmid.

“That means we now see a possibility of spread,” says physician and clinical microbiologist Robert Skov. And not just from mother cell to daughter cell, he says, but to neighboring strains of bacteria, too.

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