The Start of the End for Antibiotics?

It seems it was only a matter of time, but it has finally happened. For the first time in the US a germ that can’t be treated with an antibiotic that is often used as the last resort has made an appearance.

The germ was discovered in a 49-year-old woman in Pennsylvania with a urinary tract infection. The infection was caused by E. coli bacteria that had a gene that made them resistant to an antibiotic known as colistin. Colistin, a medicine that dates to the 1950s, is now used on infections that have become resistant to every other antibiotic. In this case, the woman’s infection could still be treated with another antibiotic so she did recover but the existence of the germ is still big news.

The findings were published online Thursday in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

While government scientists say the case is cause for serious concern, this germ doesn’t pose any immediate public health threat. However, now that this resistance gene has shown up in the U.S., it could spread to other germs, creating infections that doctors will have no way to treat. Public health officials are putting their heads together as this scenario is already happened in other parts of the world, including China.

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