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Superbug E. Coli Found for Just Second Time in US

Posted by Shawna Rothery on


For just the second time in the U.S., researchers have found evidence of E. coli bacteria that are genetically resistant to a last-resort antibiotic, according to a report published today in the medical journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

The superbug has a gene that makes it resistant to treatment with colistin, an antibiotic often used by doctors as a last resort for antibiotic-resistant infections, the report states.

In this case, the bacteria were genetically resistant to colistin but not to other forms of antibiotics that could be used to kill the E. coli. However, researchers are concerned that these bacteria could transfer genes to other E. coli and different bacteria that are already resistant to all forms of antibiotics except colistin, leading to the chance of a fully antibiotic-resistant strain of bacterium. Researchers are especially concerned about the possibility that the gene could be transferred within the Enterobacteriaceae family of bacteria, which includes E. coli. Some strains in that family are already largely resistant to many kind of antibiotics in the U.S.

Researchers found the strain by testing 13,562 E. coli strains collected at hospitals across the globe. They found 19 strains had the gene mcr-1, which makes E.coli resistant to colistin. In one case, that strain was found in the U.S.

Researchers said the global findings are alarming because it means there may be an increasing likelihood of having outbreaks of E. coli bacteria that are totally resistant to

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