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article imagePossible second 'superbug' gene may have been found in U.S.

By Karen Graham     Jun 28, 2016 in Health
After the discovery in May of a Pennsylvania woman with a bacterial pathogen resistant to an "antibiotic of last resort," researchers are saying another patient, this time in New York has been identified as having the same mcr-1 “superbug” gene.
The latest discovery was scheduled to be published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology on June 27.
On Tuesday, Managed Care Magazine reported the editors of the journal decided to withhold publication of the study because the authors wanted to verify their data. A journal spokeswoman said the authors are expected to confirm the results within a week.
The study being withheld from publication focuses on the mcr-1 gene found in a sample of Escherichia coli from a patient in New York. The mcr-1 gene can make bacteria resistant to "antibiotics of last resort," such as Colistin, an old antibiotic, but one reserved for "worse case" scenarios.
But regardless of when the report is published, scientists have been tracking the dreaded mcr-1 gene as it has spread around the world after first being discovered in humans, poultry and pigs in China in 2015, as reported by Digital Journal.
In the 2015 study, scientists found the mcr-1 mutation had spread to E. coli strain SHP45, Klebsiella pneumoniae strains, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa collected from five Chinese provinces between April 2011, and November 2014.
The mcr-1 gene is located on a tiny strand of microbial DNA, and while there have been reports of Colistin-resistant bacteria before, it was only through mutation in a single organism. The mcr-1 gene, on the other hand, is much more worrisome because the mutation has arisen in a way that allows it to be easily shared with other bacteria. And that fact is what makes health officials worried.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials are very concerned about the mcr-1 gene because it could very easily find its way into carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) bacteria, already considered a "nightmare" bacteria. CRE bacteria have an enzyme that can break down antibiotics, making them ineffective.
In January 2014, Digital Journal reported on a "CRE cluster" outbreak in Chicago, Illinois. At that time, the CDC called CRE a "nightmare bug," but later changed the terminology to "superbug." Either description is apt because regardless of what we want to call these antibiotic-resistant bacteria, they will kill us.
In 2014, Digital Journal wrote that the problem with antibiotic-resistant pathogens comes from the indiscriminate use of antibiotics in people and in the animals we eat. Additionally, the use of antibiotics by the medical community to treat viral infections, or as a "shotgun" cure-all has aided in creating antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains.
More about mrc1 gene, super bug, New york, E coli, microbial dna
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