A mutant strain of E. coli, mcr-1, is causing concern in the United States. It has been identified in a 49-year-old woman suffering from a urinary tract infection. Even colistin, a polypeptide antibiotic used as a last resort in the management of bacterial infections, is proving to be ineffective. Commonly used antibiotics for cystitis, angina or pneumonia may not work.
The phenomenon of antibiotic resistance in mutant bacteria is of concern to the entire global medical community. It is a major public health danger that threatens us and is caused by the overuse of antibiotics, disarmed in the face of increasingly tough bacteria. The dread of a return to the times when the simplest diseases were killing people en masse.
Chis super-resistant bacterium is considered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to be one of the greatest public health threats. This E-coli super-bacterium, recently discovered in Europe and China in humans and animals, was found for the first time on American soil. A team from the Walter Reed Military Research Institute's (WRAIR) Multi-Resistant Organism Surveillance Network (MRSN) reports in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy .
With a mortality rate of up to 50 %, mcr-1 is resistant to all antimicrobials, including colistin, which is used as a last resort to combat this type of super-bacteria. « It's an ancient antibiotic but the only one still effective against this nightmarish bacterium "which belongs to the carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), explained Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Colistin has been on the market since 1959. At the end of 2015, the first identification in China of a transferable colistin-resistant gene had caused concern. Several cases have since been reported in Europe, Canada, and before that in the United States.
" Colistin is one of the most effective drugs against very high resistance bacteria. The emergence of this transferable gene that confers resistance to this vital antibiotic is of great concern. The discovery of this gene in the United States calls for increased surveillance to identify reservoirs, so that its spread can be prevented. "alerts Dr. Patrick McGann, lead author of the study, quoted by the Physician's Daily.
The misuse of antibiotics is the main cause of the development of microbial resistance, which affects 2 million people in the United States and causes 23 000 deaths per year. In the European Union, drug-resistant bacteria are responsible for an estimated 25,000 deaths each year, according to the WHO, with costs amounting to more than €1.3 billion in health costs and lost productivity.
In France, each year, more than 150 000 patients develop an infection linked to a multi-resistant bacterium, and more than 12 500 people die from it, said Dr. Jean Carlet, in his report submitted this fall to the Minister of Health. More globally, antibiotic resistance is expected to cause 10 million deaths by an en 2050.
What is of great concern to researchers is that the resistant bacteria may spread to strains other than the E. coli in question. If this happens, antibiotics could become obsolete and no longer be effective against cystitis, pneumonia or angina bacteria. Diseases that can be fatal. That's why the Obama administration has decided to go ahead withnvestir urgently need $800 million for research into new generations of antimicrobials.