Dangerous E. coli Strain Discovered for First Time in U.S.

According to The Washington Post, a Pennsylvania woman has been infected with a strain of bacteria resistant to an antibiotic “of last resort.

This is the first infection of its kind in the United States. “Defense Department researchers determined that she carried a strain of E. coli resistant to the antibiotic colistin, the article states. Colistin is a drug of last resort for particularly dangerous types of bacteria.

Health officials say that the strain found in this woman can be treated with other antibiotics and is not cause for panic. They worry, however, that its colistin-resistant gene will spread to deadly bacteria that are already resistant to other antibiotics.

This superbug has surfaced before. In November, Chinese and British researchers reported the colistin-resistant strain in pigs, raw pork, and a few people in China. The deadly strain later emerged in Europe and elsewhere.

CDC director Tom Frieden stated on Thursday:
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.
Just last year, Mother Jones highlighted a study that predicted 10 million people would die a year from antibiotic-resistant infections by 2050.

So why are antibiotics no longer working? According to the article, factory farming is to blame:
As antibiotic use skyrockets, experts expect that germs will evolve to resist them. That’s scary, considering that some of the same drugs we use on livestock are also our best defense against infections in humans. And superbugs, several recent studies have shown, can and do jump from animals to people.
In September, a strain of antibiotic-resistant salmonella was discovered in pork from Washington state farms. Salmonella leads to more hospitalizations and deaths than any other foodborne illness, sickening more than 1 million people each year. In fact, the salmonella infection rate in people has risen 44 percent in just the past decade.

Is it any wonder that cramped, filthy factory farm conditions are breeding grounds for disease?

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