Written by Angela Kelly
200 Cases of “Nightmare Bacteria” Found in US Last Year
“Nightmare bacteria” with unusual resistance to antibiotics of last resort were found more than 200 times in the US last year in a first-of-its-kind hunt to see how much of a threat these rare cases have become. The number was higher than expected; the actual number is likely much higher as only a few labs in each state were involved in monitoring the rise of these “superbugs.” Eleven percent of people in close contact with the infected patients also harbored the drug-resistant bacteria, allowing for further spread. These infections “verge on untreatable infections” where all that can be provided is supportive care and machines to keep the patient alive and give time to fight the infection. It is estimated that about two million Americans experience antibiotic-resistant infections each year.
Deaths from C. diff and Other Diarrheal Illnesses on the Rise
“Deaths related to diarrheal diseases such as Clostridium difficile (C. diff) increased from 0.41 to 2.41 per 100,000 population from 1980 to 2014.” At the same time, deaths from HIV, meningitis, and tuberculosis declined. It is expected that deaths from diarrheal illness will continue surge with the aging population and rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The Future of Preventing C. Diff Infections
Researchers at North Carolina State University studied how “antibiotic use creates a veritable ‘banquet’ for Clostridium difficile (C. diff) by altering the native gut bacteria that would normally compete with C. diff for nutrients.” During a C. diff infection in a mouse model, levels of proline (an amino acid) decreased “as the population of C. diff increased.” A byproduct of proline also increased, “indicating that C. diff was metabolizing the proline.” By better understanding C. diff infections, probiotics and other means of preventing infection can be further developed.
More from Angela Kelly at www.gutsymother.com.