Say What Now? Antibiotic-Resistant Superbug detected in Los Angeles Wastewater Could 'Spread Widely'

An antibiotic-resistant superbug has been detected in Los Angeles wastewater samples, and public health officials are concerned the bug could spread.

via Raw Story:

The superbug was found amid ongoing wastewater surveillance that became an important tool for public health officials during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bacteria are resistant to colistin, a so-called “last-resort” antibiotic, according to the report.

The Times’ Alex Wigglesworth writes: “Testing found antibiotic resistance genes on two novel small plasmids: circular pieces of DNA that can be shared among different types of unrelated bacteria, said researcher Adam Smith, associate professor of environmental engineering at USC.”

Smith’s findings were published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

“This is probably the scariest aspect: the potential for this resistance to spread widely across different bacterial populations,” Smith told The Times.

Antibiotic resistant germs are considered a growing global public health threat.

More than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur in the United States each year resulting in more than 35,000 deaths, the report said.

Should such antibiotic-resistant germs become widespread, minor injuries and common infections could become deadly.

“We could get to the point where we can’t combat infections with antibiotics,” Smith told The Times, “so we’re entering sort of a post-antibiotic world.”

Germs resistant to colistin were first found in 2015 in China, and have since been detected on every continent except Antarctica.

Los Angeles experienced one death in 2016 linked to E.coli bacteria that carried a colistin-resistant gene.

A public health official told The Times that the antibiotic resistant germs don’t appear to be spreading at a rapid pace and said documented cases remain rare.

“Finding it in the wastewater is not surprising, and it’s nothing for the general public to worry about,” said Dawn Terashita, who serves as associate director of acute communicable disease control at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Another antibiotic-resistant disease is the absolute LAST thing we need right now.

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