It is World Antibiotic Awareness Week and while that might be cause to celebrate, there is also something slightly scary that has come out about. Researchers in China found that we could soon find bacteria that is resistant to every type of antibiotic, and these problems are already infecting people of the world.
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Up until this point, there has been a type of bacteria that was known as Gram Negative that is susceptible to a particular class of antibiotics that are called polymyxins. These are considered, according to New Scientists, as the last resort because they treat infections that aren't susceptible to any other kind.
The World Health Organization (WHO) classified Colistin in 2012, as the most broadly used polymyxin and the most important for human health. However, farmers from all over the world, but particularly in China, use it to fatten up their livestock, particularly pigs and chickens.
However, now Yi-Yun Liu and a team at the South China Agricultural University in Guangzhou have found the first resistance gene for the colistin that can move freely.
This gene is already prevalent in southern China, popping up in 15 percent of meat samples and 21 percent of the animals tested since 2011. It has also started to appear in humans. In a test of 1,322 blood and urine samples provided by hospitals in southern China, 16 cases popped up.
That might seem like a low number, but it is something to be worried about. The team says that because the gene can travel between bacteria, it might also become unbeatable by any known antibiotic. The gene travels easily between Escherichia coli, a common human pathogen, and other common types of bacteria like Klebsiella and Pseudomonas.
This could lead to thousands of deaths if we don't condense the number - and it has the chance to spread beyond China.
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Unfortunately, it is unlikely to go away.