Bacteria resistant to 'last resort' antibiotic colistin discovered in UK

The strains carry a gene named mcr-1, which can spread rapidly between species, potentially leading to a super-resistant epidemic

Samuel Osborne
Monday 21 December 2015 19:28
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Woman had reportedly broken her  thigh bone while in India years prior to her death
Woman had reportedly broken her thigh bone while in India years prior to her death

Bacteria resistant to colistin, the antibiotic of last resort, have been discovered in the UK.

Public Health England found resistant bacteria in samples of human infections and on three farms.

The strains carry a gene named mcr-1, which can spread rapidly between species, potentially leading to a super-resistant epidemic.

A similar discovery was made last month in China, follwed by findings of similar resistance in parts of Africa and Europe.

Antibiotic resistance increase

Although it is used as a last line of defence against infections, colistin is widely used in agriculture to fatten up pigs and prevent disease in farm animals.

Professor Alan Johnson, from Public Health England, said: "Our assessment is that the public health risk posed by this gene is currently considered very low, but is subject to ongoing review as more information becomes available.

"The organisms identified can be killed by cooking your food properly and all the bacteria we identified with this gene were responsive to other antibiotics, called carbapenems.

"We will monitor this closely, and will provide any further public advice as needed."

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