News & Politics

Apocalypse Nigh: Feared Superbug Resistant to 'Antibiotic of Last Resort' Now in U.S.


For the first time, researchers have found a person in the United States carrying bacteria resistant to antibiotic of last resort, an alarming development that the top U.S. public health official says could signal “the end of the road” for antibiotics.

The antibiotic-resistant strain was found last month in the urine of a 49-year-old Pennsylvania woman. Defense Department researchers determined that she carried a strain of E. coli resistant to the antibiotic colistin, according to a study published Thursday in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a publication of the American Society for Microbiology. The authors wrote that the discovery “heralds the emergence of a truly pan-drug resistant bacteria.”

Colistin is the antibiotic of last resort for particularly dangerous types of superbugs, including a family of bacteria known as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, which health officials have dubbed “nightmare bacteria.” In some instances, these superbugs kill up to 50 percent of patients who become infected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called CRE among the country’s most urgent public health threats.

The good news: the people looking for an alternative to Trump or Hillary may have just found one (since the Sweet Meteor of Death seems to have dropped out of the race).

The bad news: it’s too early in the game to wipe us all out before the election.

True, this is just one case and it does seem to be manageable at the moment. Still, as any fan of good apocalypse fiction knows, it always begins with just one case. CDC Director Tom Frieden’s assessment of the news is sobering:

“It basically shows us that the end of the road isn’t very far away for antibiotics — that we may be in a situation where we have patients in our intensive-care units, or patients getting urinary tract infections for which we do not have antibiotics,”

Nature is powerful, highly adaptive, and wins A LOT but remember, your old light bulbs are going to kill the planet.

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