New Potentially Lethal Superbug Resistant to ALL Antibiotics is Found in the UK - and 12 people have been infected

Twelve people have been treated for infections linked to virulent strains of salmonella and E.coli carrying a deadly resistance gene.


Twelve people in Britain have been treated for infections linked to virulent strains of salmonella (pictrured) and E.coli carrying a deadly resistance gene, scientists have warned

At the same time, bugs carrying the gene have been found on three pig farms in the UK and chicken meat imported from Europe.

Just last month, scientists sounded the alarm over the dangers of global epidemics caused by infections that doctors would not be able to treat.

The warning followed the discovery of a superbug version of E.coli on pig farms in China.

It contained the MCR-1 resistance gene that disables the last-line antibiotic colistin, which would normally be used to treat humans after all other drugs have failed.

Three involved types of E.coli infecting two hospital patients. Two involved types of salmonella found on a single sample of chicken imported from the EU.

The fact that these bugs contained the MCR-1 gene means they are resistant to the antibiotic colistin, which is primarily used in the UK as a treatment of last resort for infections.

While the 12 British patients could not be treated with colistin, they survived after doctors found other drugs that worked.

At the same time as PHE was carrying out its tests, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate re-tested samples taken from pigs that have fallen sick on farms in the last two years.

Its experts found that E.coli taken from pigs on three different farms carried the resistance gene.

Britain's chief medical officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, has linked the use of antibiotics on farm animals to treat or prevent infections as being instrumental in the rise of superbugs.

She has called on ministers and the farming industry to radically reduce the use of such drugs, which are used particularly on intensive factory farms.

Dame Sally has painted an alarming scenario where even minor infections picked up during routine surgery could become untreatable with severe health consequences.

Speaking last year, she said: 'Antimicrobial resistance poses a catastrophic threat.

'If we don't act now, any one of us could go into hospital in 20 years for minor surgery and die because of an ordinary infection that can't be treated by antibiotics. And routine operations like hip replacements or organ transplants could be deadly because of the risk of infection.'

The fact that the superbug is in Britain was revealed by the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics.

It claims the fact that colistin is frequently used for mass medication of farm animals has been instrumental in salmonella and E.coli developing a resistance.

The group has established that 837kg of colistin were sold for use in British farm animals in 2014, whereas just 300kg are used per year in human medicine.

Scientific advisor to the Alliance, Cóilín Nunan, said the use of colistin on UK farms should be banned immediately.

He said: 'Despite scientists saying that resistance to this last-resort antibiotic is likely to be spreading from farm animals to humans, it still remains completely legal in the UK and in most EU countries to routinely feed colistin to large groups of intensively farmed animals, even when no disease has been diagnosed in any of the animals.

'We need the government, the European Commission and regulatory bodies like the Veterinary Medicines Directorate to respond urgently.

'The routine preventative use in farming of colistin, and all antibiotics important in human medicine, needs to be banned immediately.'

Mr Nunan said the resistance gene has also been found in recent weeks in Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Portugal and in several Asian and African countries.

Professor Alan Johnson, head of the Department of Healthcare Associated Infection (HCAI) and Antibiotic Resistance at PHE, played down the risk.

He said: 'The mcr-1 gene, recently identified as a cause of resistance to the antibiotic colistin, has been found in a very small number of samples of bacteria - 15 out of 24,000, from humans and food tested in the UK.

'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.'

The Food and Farming Department, DEFRA, said superbug strains of E.coli carrying the MCR-1 resistance gene have been found on three farms.

As a result, farm vets across the UK have decided to limit the use of colistin on farm animals, which may be a cause.

DEFRA said: 'The Animal and Plant Health Agency has identified bacteria in pigs from three different farms that have the MCR-1 colistin resistance gene. All bacteria found were treatable with other antibiotics.

'PHE have said the risk to human health is very low, and the Food Standards Agency have said the risk from eating thoroughly cooked pork is also very low.

'We are enhancing our surveillance for colistin resistance, and veterinary prescribers have voluntarily updated prescribing guidelines to restrict use of colistin in animals.'


Source: Mail Online



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