Colonies of E. coli bacteria grown on a Hektoen enteric (HE) agar plate are seen in a microscopic image courtesy of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). CDC/Handout via REUTERS
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U.S. health officials Thursday reported the first case in the country of a patient with an infection resistant to a last-resort antibiotic, and expressed grave concern that the superbug could pose serious danger for routine infections if it spreads.Frieden, speaking at a National Press Club luncheon in Washington, D.C., said the bacteria was resistant to colistin, an antibiotic that is reserved for use against "nightmare bacteria"."It is dangerous and we would assume it can be spread quickly, even in a hospital environment if it is not well contained," said Dr. Gail Cassell, a microbiologist and senior lecturer at Harvard Medical School.But she said the potential speed of its spread will not be known until more is learned about how the Pennsylvania patient was infected, and how present the colistin-resistant superbug is in the United States and globally.In the United States, antibiotic resistance has been blamed for at least 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths annually.Studies have shown that 30 percent to 50 percent of antibiotics prescribed in hospitals are unnecessary or incorrect, contributing to antibiotic resistance.
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