Drug-resistant 'superbug' kills 4
Sunday 29 August 1999
The alarming US government report, which its authors describe as a "wake up call", has led to predictions of untreatable epidemics sweeping around the world and will add urgency to calls to ban the routine feeding of antibiotics to farm animals.
US government health officials are putting doctors across the country on alert, after hundreds of people have contracted it - and four children have died - in the Midwest farm states of Minnesota and North Dakota.
The report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDP) says that the bug has infected people from all racial groups in both rural and urban parts of the States. It adds: "It is unclear how to limit its spread within the community." And it says that it seems to have reached other countries.
The bug, a strain of Staphylococcus aureus - which is spread by skin- to-skin contact - has long been prevalent in hospitals, including some in the UK, where antibiotics are heavily used. But Dr Jay Todd Weber, of the CDP, says: "These were the first deaths that we were aware of among previously healthy people in the general public."
The four dead children - a seven-year-old black girl from urban Minnesota, a 16-month- old American Indian girl from North Dakota, a 13-year-old white girl from rural Minnesota and a 12-month-old white boy from rural North Dakota - were all previously healthy, the report says. Neither they nor any of their family had recently been in hospital and none of their close relatives worked in healthcare, where they might have picked up the bug. The children were all given the right antibiotics but their doctors were unaware that they were dealing with resistant bacteria.
The CDP adds that 200 people have become ill in the US over the past two years after contracting the superbug and that cases have also been found in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Another report, from the Minnesota Department of Health, says that antibiotic-resistant bacteria were found on the skins of a high proportion of chickens in local supermarkets.
The report says the superbug can still be treated with Vancomycin, often described as the "antibiotic of last resort". But there is evidence that bacteria are now developing resistance even to this.
Ten days ago, Britain's official Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food reported an "apparently inexorable growth in the number of resistant bacteria" as a result of the practice of feeding antibiotics to animals raised for meat to make them grow faster.
It adds: "We believe that the evidence shows conclusively that giving antibiotics to animals results in the emergence of some resistant bacteria which infects humans."
Look beyond the usual shows for the best festive telly
The battle for control of Stieg Larsson's £30m legacy
Geoffrey Macnab does not like the comedian's big screen debut
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
Anachronistic and iniquitous, grammar schools are a blot on the British education system
- 1 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 2 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 3 Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
- 4 Cycle death inquest: Boyfriend hugs driver of 32 tonne tipper truck that killed his girlfriend
- 5 Burglar steals video tapes of child abuse, hands them into police
- < Previous
- Next >
£25000 - £35000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: PHP Deve...
£40000 - £55000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: This Big 4 giant is seeking ...
£35000 - £50000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: Do you have personal tax exp...
£22000 - £37000 per annum: Capita Education Resourcing Permanent Team: This se...