The United States' first known case of a superbug that cannot be killed by a last resort-style kind of antibiotic was detailed in a report by the U.S. Department of Defense on Thursday. Doctors treated the infection using another antibiotic, but said they were alarmed by the discovery of the mcr-1 gene inside the U.S.
The patient - a 49-year-old woman in Pennsylvania - has recovered, but the case raises the specter of superbugs that could cause untreatable infections, because the bacteria can easily transmit their resistance to other germs that are already resistant to additional antibiotics.
The discovery - the first time the strain has been found inside the USA - "heralds the emergence of truly pan-drug resistant bacteria", according to a report released Thursday by Department of Defense researchers.
According to a report by CNN, the Center for Disease Control and the Pennsylvania Health Department subsequently launched efforts to track the afflicted patient's travel history and previous medical treatment in an attempt to ascertain how she might have contracted the bacteria.
If such a superbug spread, it would take the world back to a time when there were no antibiotics, says Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The bill would allow the Food and Drug Administration to expedite an antibiotic's approval for an "identifiable, limited patient population", such as those with antibiotic-resistant infections, if the drug treats a serious or life-threatening condition and addresses an unmet need. Moreover, researchers said it - quote - "heralds the emergence of truly pan-drug-resistant bacteria".
A superbug is a microbe, which has evolved to exhibit antimicrobial (drug) resistance, whereby the microbe becomes partially or completely resistant to drugs, which were previously successful in treating ailments caused by it. Local and state agencies will also collect samples.
"We know now that the more we look, the more we are going to find", he added.
"The emergence of a transferable gene that confers resistance to this vital antibiotic is extremely disturbing", said lead author Patrick McGann, PhD, of WRAIR, in a Walter Reed news release.
This discovery suggests the drug-resistance gene has been here in the US, flying under the radar.
The CNN headline, which has now been updated, initially incorrectly identified the colitis resistant bacteria as a CRE.
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