Typhoid: Antibiotic-resistant ‘superbug’ has spread worldwide

Resistant strain emerged in Southeast Asia 25 years ago and spread

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The Independent US

A “superbug” strain of typhoid fever that is resistant to antibiotics has spread across the globe, according to one of the largest studies ever done on infectious disease in humans.

The study, published recently in Nature Genetics, was done by a team of 74 scientists working in more than 12 countries and documents the spread of antibiotic-resistant typhoid, specifically the H58 family of bacteria, Time reported.


“Multidrug resistant typhoid has been coming and going since the 1970s and is caused by the bacteria picking up novel antimicrobial resistance genes, which are usually lost when we switch to a new drug,” said study author Kathryn Holt in a statement. “In H58, these genes are becoming a stable part of the genome, which means multiply antibiotic resistant typhoid is here to stay.”

Typhoid infects about 30 million people and is contracted by eating or drinking contaminated material, Reuters reported. Symptoms include nausea, fever, stomach pain and pink spots on the chest.

If left untreated, typhoid can kill up to 20 per cent of people infected. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention claims that the disease kills about 200,000 people globally per yer.

Typhoid vaccines exist, but their expense prohibits widespread use in developing countries, where the disease is most common. Regular strains of the disease can be treated with antibiotics, but not the H58 strain, which the study found is become the dominant strain of the disease.

“H58 is displacing other typhoid strains, completely transforming the genetic architecture of the disease and creating a previously underappreciated and on-going epidemic,” the researchers said in a statement about the study.


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