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United States Biotech Earth News Science Technology

Antibiotic-Resistant E Coli Reaches The US For The First Time (reuters.com) 203

New submitter maharvey writes: A woman in Pennsylvania has contracted a strain of E Coli that is unaffected by all known legal antibiotics, including the antibiotics of last resort. We have had bacteria that were resistant, but this is the first bacteria that is completely immune. Such bacteria were known in China, but since the woman has not traveled recently it means she contracted it in the wild in the USA. This is a major step toward the terrifying post-antibiotic world.
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Antibiotic-Resistant E Coli Reaches The US For The First Time

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  • the chickens. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Thursday May 26, 2016 @07:08PM (#52191611)

    they've come home to roost.

    • by stooo ( 2202012 )

      50 Years of abuse of Antibiotics.
      Now they're more and more busted.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 26, 2016 @07:15PM (#52191653)

    Biodiversity is a good thing, but we're destroying it. We need to allow nature to create new antibiotics and use those as needed.

    Also, there are some fucking absurd abuses of antibiotics. Doctors are way too quick to wrote prescriptions when they aren't necessary. We need to stop prescribing antibiotics when they aren't necessary for infections that will be stopped by the body's immune system or as preventive measures.

    Furthermore, we shouldn't be wasting antibiotics on animals, especially for cattle. I'm sorry that one of the animals in your herd is sick. There's no fucking reason to put antibiotics in the feed of all of your cattle. That's fucking ridiculous. Don't use antibiotics on cattle.

    This is a fucking big deal. People who misuse antibiotics should lose their license to practice medicine. I'd also support prison time for it.

    • by golodh ( 893453 ) on Thursday May 26, 2016 @07:46PM (#52191773)
      Apart from your gratuitous use of the f-word, I agree.

      Perhaps this woman's imminent death can serve as a rallying point to ban the (grossly irresponsible) use of antibiotics in foodstock fodder.

      Expect the foodstock industry to fight any such suggestion tooth and nail of course. Such a ban will cost them money since foodstock put on weight more slowly when not dosed with low levels of antibiotics, and any scare stories about antibiotics-resistant bacteria are "so many radical treehuggers' fantasies" of course.

      "Huh ... it's already happened you say? I thought we had another five years at least. Hmm ... denounce the linkage a speculation based on evolution theory, increase the lobbyist budget, and see if we can't get a deal with a nice understanding conservative presidential candidate."

      Why oh why do we need to actually see an antibiotics-resistant bacteria infect somebody before we'll acknowledge the blindingly obvious about to happen?

      • The only problem is that, like climate change, it's already too late. We should have taken control of antibiotics use *before* antibiotic-immune bacteria evolved. Now it's too late.

        But as usual, people are too greedy and short sighted to care about minor details like destroying the single biggest and most important defence modern medicine has to help people.

        • it's already too late

          I call bullshit. Sure we need new antibiotics, but if we don't correct the institutional malpractices, those too will become useless before long.

        • by golodh ( 893453 )

          The only problem is that, like climate change, it's already too late. We should have taken control of antibiotics use *before* antibiotic-immune bacteria evolved. Now it's too late.

          No it's not.

          Pardon me for being crude, but the fact that we are seeing one patient infected by an antibiotic resistant bacteria doesn't mean the end of the world (except perhaps for that one patient).

          By and large we'll continue being able to treat bacterial infections with antibiotics, but the probability of some of those ca

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by yes-but-no ( 4133651 )

        Why oh why do we need to actually see an antibiotics-resistant bacteria infect somebody before we'll acknowledge the blindingly obvious about to happen?

        Because, Sir, we as a species are dumb.

    • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
      But at this point, there's no link between over-prescription of antibiotics and resistant strains. People like to blame the over-prescription, but take a person with a viral infection, and no bacterial infection. But the studies are sufficiently split on the topic that one can only say there's no clear link either way.
    • I'd also support prison time for it.

      You underestimate the cost of prisons.

    • by Evtim ( 1022085 )

      And for the bacterial infection go phage! Oh, but you can't patent a naturally occurring cure. We can't have that - saving lives without making PROFIT....are you Marxist or something ;)

    • "Allow nature to create new antibiotics"? That is the dumbest shit I have heard. You take the bacteria, you examine its genetic code and locate proteins which are critical to its function but unknown to humans, you find proteins on its cell membrane which are unique markers and don't match with humans or livestock, and you engineer chemicals and counter-proteins to interfere with that. Resistance requires fundamental structural changes for which we can then adjust overnight; and highly-engineered antibio
    • Doctors are way too quick to wrote prescriptions when they aren't necessary.

      True, but they're also way too reluctant to culture samples on the patient's first presentation. That has nearly no downside (except cost) and avoids the guessing game of "Well, it didn't respond to that antibiotic, let's try this one", which created an increased evolutionary pressure toward multiple resistance.

  • by NotInHere ( 3654617 ) on Thursday May 26, 2016 @07:16PM (#52191665)

    what about not using antibiotics on living animals? They serve as a feeding ground for antibiotics. The price would be that you have to pay more for products that include flesh, because you would have to isolate the animals better, in order to stop spreading illnesses.

    • by tomhath ( 637240 )
      More likely the bacteria was passed from humans to pigs.
    • As a living animal who has been helped by antibiotics, I object.

    • While that's a good idea, we don't know she didn't get it from a human. This is only the first reported case. Maybe there's someone out there dropping loose, biotoxic shits from here to Tehachapi

  • Nice job humanity! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slacka ( 713188 ) on Thursday May 26, 2016 @07:24PM (#52191695)

    Total Failure of Government and Society and not a good sign for the future of the human race. I personally have been well aware of the risks of Antibiotic-Resistant for over 20 years. This was the text book example of natural selection in my High School Biology class.

    Instead of listening to the scientists and public health officals on the risks, we have let the greed and money in big ag run make our laws. We let them dump antibiotics in our livestock food in so we could have cheap meat and now the chickens are coming home to roost.

    Welcome back to the pre-antibiotic era where a cut can be deadly and hospitals can kill you. Nice job humanity!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      evolution is a bitch, i for one welcome our replacement species.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Nice job humanity!

      The human race has never had a good long game. Immediate comfort is irresistible to all animals.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mabu ( 178417 )

      One minute you blame government, the next you say we should listen to "public health officials." I think you contradict yourself.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        One minute you blame government, the next you say we should listen to "public health officials." I think you contradict yourself.

        Not a contraction at all. The government as a whole can fail the people, while individuals within the government can warn of the impending threat.

        Watch Frontline's "The problem with antibiotics", there a member of the CDC, a "public official", warns about feeding antibiotics to livestock, however the CDC cannot regulate animal food, that's the FDA's role. But the FDA's hands are tied by Senators who have been corrupted by big ag's money. Hence, our government failed us because "corporations are people".

      • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

        One minute you blame government, the next you say we should listen to "public health officials." I think you contradict yourself.

        Only if he's a Libertarian with double standards. All government is bad, because Chernobyl, in the same way that all businesses are bad, because Enron. One makes as much sense as the other.

        • While I agree with your sentiment, your example is flawed. Chernobyl was a private corporation - they are an example more like Enron than like government. In fact that company still exists, and is still in business. My own government seems hellbent to sign a major nuclear procurement deal with them... because of COURSE we'll buy our nuclear reactors from the only company to ever blow one the fuck up.

      • One minute you blame government, the next you say we should listen to "public health officials." I think you contradict yourself.

        Not if you realize that the government officials who make the laws are not the public health officials warning about health issues. They are two totally separate groups of people. The former need to be hanged, and the latter need to be rewarded.

    • Welcome back to the pre-antibiotic era where a cut can be deadly and hospitals can kill you.

      Hospitals can already kill you: Medical errors now third leading cause of death in United States [washingtonpost.com]

      • by PCM2 ( 4486 )

        What is more, there are strains of resistant bacteria that are known as "nosocomial" bacteria. That word means these particular strains are found in hospitals, and pretty much ONLY in hospitals. And you can go to hospitals from coast to coast and you will find these strains in ALL of them. They've evolved to thrive in hospitals. And you can spray down the surgery with as much antiseptic as you want, and you will probably still be able to swab a little bit of it from some surface, somewhere. So yes, hospita

    • Total Failure of Government and Society and not a good sign for the future of the human race. I personally have been well aware of the risks of Antibiotic-Resistant for over 20 years. This was the text book example of natural selection in my High School Biology class.

      Instead of listening to the scientists and public health officals on the risks, we have let the greed and money in big ag run make our laws. We let them dump antibiotics in our livestock food in so we could have cheap meat and now the chickens are coming home to roost.

      Welcome back to the pre-antibiotic era where a cut can be deadly and hospitals can kill you. Nice job humanity!

      While what you say may be true, I disagree with your conclusions and your hindsight.

      There should be no problem giving massive amounts of antibiotics to livestock. In fact, we should be giving *more*, or at least *more effective* antibiotics to livestock.

      The regulatory problem wasn't from giving out too many antibiotics, it was because the regulations are so stiff that it's impossible to create new antibiotics. The fundamental flaw in the system was to make government bureaucrats responsible for risk, while

      • Had that abundance of caution extended to not giving humans and livestock antibiotics that they didn't need, then we'd probably have another 20 years to develop some new antibiotics.

    • It's not like there was a mass social movement demanding that cows be inundated with antibiotics because they're knee-deep in their own shit on a factory farm. Like climate change, asbestos or the tobacco industry, this is about profit for a handful of people.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    1) don't let the Mexicans that pick your lettuce take a shit in the patch.
    2) don't fuck butts without a jimmy

  • Bacteriophages have already been helpful with many cases of bacterial infection [wikipedia.org], they would probably already be in more widespread use (outside of the former USSR) if big pharma wouldn't insist on only selling patented stuff for the better of profits.
    • That might not be a bad thing though. Widespread use was how we got into this problem in the first place
    • if big pharma wouldn't insist on only selling patented stuff for the better of profits.

      Other than through monopoly rents, how else is the advocate for a particular new treatment supposed to recoup the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to prove to the U.S. FDA that the treatment is safe and effective?

      • by ffkom ( 3519199 )
        Why would the advocate of some (in this case not even new) therapy need to be a for-profit company? The US spends billions on military invasions abroad each year, with the questionable rationale that this lowers the number of terror victims. Yet, orders of magnitude more people die from diseases that this money could most probably heal. Ok, asking a US politician for spending money on saving people is also orders of magnitude less likely to succeed than asking for spending money on killing people, yet that
  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Thursday May 26, 2016 @08:11PM (#52191895)
    More proof of our trade imbalance with China.
  • Did they try every single antibiotic on this woman? Just because it has mcr-1 and is resistant to colistin doesn't mean it's resistant to everything. A friend of mine got a chest infection that was resistant to a lot of different antibiotics, including zithromax. After trying 4 different antibiotics, the doctor gave him sustained release penicillin, because, why not. 3 days later the couching stopped and he was on the mend.
  • Crop Rotation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ThatsNotPudding ( 1045640 ) on Thursday May 26, 2016 @11:37PM (#52192721)
    This is a stupid question, but I've always wondered why old (very old, unused for decades) antibacterials can't be resurrected with a restored effectiveness. I liken it to the idea of rotating crops so the field soils aren't totally stripped of nutrients by planting the same crop year after year.

    I mean: what does in benefit rather simple organisms to continue to pass along resistance to a spectrum of anti-biotic that their ancestors hadn't been exposed to in decades (and that's how many bacterial generations)? Isn't there a 'carrying capacity' or 'memory limit' to what can be added to their code that has to be slowly deprecated / de-prioritized just for physical space constraints? Asserting they have the Borg-like ability to perfectly add to their defenses without end, sounds a bit too apocalyptic to me.
    • That's not a stupid question, because that's exactly how we use insecticides. I used to live in a building where the exterminator's records were posted (in the basement, behind the laundry machines, and guarded by a leopard, but nonetheless public) and you could see how they'd rotate the insecticides every six to nine months. The exact rotation period may not have been arrived at through scrupulous scientific rigor, but even the schmucks whose awful job it is to crawl through disgusting basements breathing

    • Already done. The last-resort drug this patient's bacteria are resistant to, colistin, is decades old. It's only used as a last resort because it's harmful to the kidneys.

    • Re:Crop Rotation (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve ( 949321 ) on Friday May 27, 2016 @10:16AM (#52194733)

      This is a stupid question, but I've always wondered why old (very old, unused for decades) antibacterials can't be resurrected with a restored effectiveness. I liken it to the idea of rotating crops so the field soils aren't totally stripped of nutrients by planting the same crop year after year.

      It's not a stupid question at all. Frankly, people should be asking this question in case nobody thought of it. The problem is that this has actually been tried and in a lot of cases it hasn't helped. Some of the older drugs stopped being used because they were toxic or had some very undesirable possible side effects and they were replaced with drugs that were safer to the patient to use. It turns out that once bacteria start getting highly resistant that they are basically resistant to almost everything including the older drugs. We desperately need drug manufacturers to get interested in new lines of antibiotics, but due to research cost there hasn't been a lot of interest in developing new ones. And as others have pointed out given how the government seems completely and utterly disinterested in the USA (and other countries) in stopping people from giving antibiotics to livestock, we've created this mess ourselves and seem oddly uninterested in fixing it.

  • Why am I not terrified in this post antibiotic world?

  • This is the beginning of the end of the modern era.

    It was modern medicine - antibiotics, mainly - which allowed the advances which make modern life possible. Things like space flight, or even high capacity public transit, become untenable when the possibility of fatal bacterial strains being spread in the public: people will shun crowded, filthy public transit for fear of contracting something.

    And just forget about manned space flight.

  • > "Some people argue that antibiotic-resistant strains that develop in food animals are largely irrelevant to human health because E. coli strains are relatively species-specific and so will not cause disease in people. This current study [5] shows that argument is flawed."

    http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/49/2/202.full

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