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Second Case of Superbug in United States Found in New York Patient

Jun 29, 2016 10:17 PM EDT

Scientists have discovered a mcr-1 "superbug" gene in a sample of E.coli bacteria from a New York patient, making it the second reported case of superbug infection in the United States.

According to a report from Reuters, the discovery was made after the researchers analyzed 13,525 Escherichia coli and 7,481 Klebsiella pneumoniae strains from patients collected last year as part of the global effort called the SENTRY Antimicrobial Surveillance Program. These patients came from hospitals in the Asia-Pacific region, Latin America, Europe and North America.

Out of the thousands of analyzed strains, about 1.9 percent or 390 were resistant to colistin, humanity's last resort against bacterial infection. Meanwhile, 19 of these isolates were tested positive for the mcr-1 gene, including one that came from United States.

The first reported case of superbug infection in the U.S. came from Pennsylvania. The patient had a urinary tract infection caused by E.coli bacteria carrying the mcr-1 gene.

In both cases, the bacteria were resistant to colistin but were susceptible to other antibiotic, making it treatable.

However, experts are worried that the mcr-1 gene may find its way into carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae or CRE, which can potentially create a superbug resistant to all known types of antibiotic.

Bloomberg reported that the mcr-1 gene was first discovered in humans and pigs in Chine last November 2015. Two months after its initial discovery, researchers detected the colistin-resistant bacteria in 19 countries.

Due to the steady increase of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, U.S. health officials are advocating for the proper prescription and usage of antibacterial medications, frequent use of antibiotics can lead to the development of resistance in bacteria.

In the United States, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated at least 2 million people being infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics each year causing at least 23,000 deaths as a direct result.

In order to have a winning chance against the superbug, CDC is planning to expand their laboratory capacity to seven or eight regional laboratories. They are also planning to add capacity to laboratories in each U.S. state, including seven cities or territories.

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