Scientists found that bacteria gets resistant to drugs used when all other treatments have failed, puts the world on the cusp of a “post-antibiotic era”.
The Lancet magazine says that even the powerful antibiotic like colistin is resisted by bacteria in patients and livestock in China. Scientists describe a new mutation, dubbed the MCR-1 gene, that prevented colistin from killing bacteria.
This means bacteria is fast becoming completely resistant to treatment.
- Common infections would kill once again
- Surgeries and cancer therapies, which are reliant on antibiotics, would be under threat.
- The new resistance gene will hook up with others plaguing hospitals, leading to bacteria resistant to all treatment – what is known as pan-resistance.
- The resistance had spread between a range of bacterial strains and species, including E. coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa
- There is also evidence that it has spread to Laos and Malaysia.
Prof Timothy Walsh, who collaborated on the study, from the University of Cardiff, told the BBC News website: All the key players are now in place to make the post-antibiotic world a reality.
If MRC-1 becomes global, which is a case of when not if, and the gene aligns itself with other antibiotic resistance genes, which is inevitable, then we will have very likely reached the start of the post-antibiotic era.
“At that point if a patient is seriously ill, say with E. coli, then there is virtually nothing you can do.”
Antibiotic Action :
- Prof Walsh is meeting both the agricultural and health ministries this weekend to discuss whether colistin should be banned for agricultural use.
- Prof Laura Piddock, from the campaign group Antibiotic Action, said the same antibiotics “should not be used in veterinary and human medicine”.
- Look out for alternative treatment options.
- Start looking at combinations of antibiotics that may still be effective.