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Practical World True News Magazine

Health : Antibiotic resistance gene found in bacteria of Chinese animals, people alarms scientists

Antibiotic resistance gene found in bacteria of Chinese animals, people alarms scientists.

A new gene that makes bacteria highly resistant to a last-resort class of 
antibiotics has been found in people and pigs in China — including in samples
of bacteria with epidemic potential, researchers say. 


The discovery was described as "alarming" by scientists, who called for
urgent restrictions on the use of polymyxins — a class of antibiotics that
includes the drug colistin and is widely used in livestock farming.


"All use of polymyxins must be minimized as soon as possible and all
unnecessary use stopped," said Laura Piddock, a professor of microbiology at
Britain's Birmingham University who was asked to comment on the finding.


Researchers led by Hua Liu from the South China Agricultural University who
published their work in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal Wednesday found the gene,
called mcr-1, on plasmids — mobile DNA that can be easily copied and transferred
between different bacteria. 


Scientists say a newly discovered antibiotic resistance gene is being transferred between common bacteria such as E.coli, which causes urinary tract and other infections. (Elaine Thompson/Associated Press)
This suggests "an alarming potential" for it to spread and diversify between
bacterial populations, they said.


The team already has evidence of the gene being transferred between common
bacteria such as E.coli, which causes urinary tract and many other types of
infection, and Klesbsiella pneumoniae, which causes pneumonia and other
infections.


This suggests "the progression from extensive drug resistance to pandrug
resistance is inevitable," they said.


"[And] although currently confined to China, mcr-1 is likely to emulate other resistance genes and spread worldwide."

The discovery of the spreading mcr-1 resistance gene echoes news from 2010 of another so-called " superbug" gene, NDM-1, which emerged in India and rapidly spread around the
world. 

Piddock and others said global surveillance for mcr-1 resistance is
now essential to try to prevent the spread of polymyxin-resistant bacteria.
China is one of the world's largest users and producers of colistin for
agriculture and veterinary use.


Worldwide demand for the antibiotic in agriculture is expected to reach
almost 12,000 tonnes per year by the end of 2015, rising to 16,500 tonnes by
2021, according to a 2015 report by the QYResearch Medical Research Centre.


In Europe, 80 per cent of polymixin sales — mainly colistin — are in Spain,
Germany and Italy, according to the European Medicines Agency's Surveillance of
Veterinary Antimicrobial Consumption (ESVAC) report.


For the China study, researchers collected bacteria samples from pigs at
slaughter across four provinces, and from pork and chicken sold in 30 open
markets and 27 supermarkets in Guangzhou between 2011 and 2014. They also
analyzed bacteria from patients with infections at two hospitals in Guangdong
and Zhejiang.


They found a high prevalence of the mcr-1 gene in E coli samples from animals
and raw meat. Worryingly, the proportion of positive samples increased from year
to year, they said, and mcr-1 was also found in 16 E.coli and K.pneumoniae
samples from 1,322 hospitalized patients.


David Paterson and Patrick Harris from Australia's University of Queensland,
writing a commentary in the same journal, said the links
between agricultural use of colistin, colistin resistance in slaughtered
animals, colistin resistance in food, and colistin resistance in humans were now
complete.


"One of the few solutions to uncoupling these connections is limitation or
cessation of colistin use in agriculture," they 
said. "Failure to do so will create a public health problem of major
dimensions."    
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