Sunday 28 July 2013

Study to assess impact of new bacterial threat: ESBL E. coli

The U.K. government is launching a new study into the impact of a microorganism called Extended-spectrum beta-lactamase Escherichia coli (ESBL-positive E. coli) in order to help combat the spread of this antibiotic-resistant bacterial strain.
Escherichia coli is the most common pathogen of bacterial infections worldwide. It has been estimated that as many as 80% of urinary tract infections are caused by E. coliE. coli infections can also cause infections in the intestine, with young children, older people and those with compromised immune systems at greatest risk of being affected by the bacteria.
One of the concerns in modern medicine is the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria, a phenomenon that has arisen partly to the widespread (or ‘overuse’) of antibiotics. There are several bacteria strains of concerns (one of the most infamous being MRSA). Certain bacteria, like some strains of E. coli, can produce enzymes called extended-spectrum β-lactamases (ESBLs) that destroy, and confer resistance to, certain classes of commonly used antibiotics.
In order to assess the impact, research will be carried out by Public Health England and funded by the Department of Health to establish the most significant reservoirs of ESBL E. coli, looking at sewage, farm slurry and raw meat to assess potential risks to human health.
The research project will also look at stool samples from patients who have no symptoms of illness to see whether the bacteria are carried in their gut. The objective of the research is to gather data to help to reduce the numbers of infections, such as urinary tract infections or blood poisoning, that are caused by ESBL E. coli.
Discussing the project aims, Professor Neil Woodford, head of the antimicrobial resistance and healthcare-associated infections reference unit at Public Health England, is quoted on a government website as saying: "Its results will help to shape future intervention strategies to reduce the spread of these antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria and to reduce the numbers of infections that they cause."

Posted by Tim Sandle

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