European media outlets including British television BBC and French daily Le Parisien reported that researchers have found superbugs that are resistant to drugs called carbapenems that are used when an infection cannot be treated with anything else. Superbugs refer to bacteria that are so deadly that no existing antibiotics can kill them. They were caused by abuse or overuse of antibiotics.
Researchers believe that recently spreading superbugs are becoming even more antibiotic-resistant during the process in which two bacteria meet up and have bacterial sex - called conjugation - and a short string of genetic information, called a plasmid, is shared between them. In this case, ordinary bacteria can be turned into superbugs by meeting up with other antibiotic-resistant bacteria. European media, citing researchers, report that the spread of resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae was “extremely concerning,” as it was resistant to carbapenems.
BBC News quoted Dr. Sophia David from the Sanger Institute who led the research as saying, “The alarming thing is these bacteria are resistant to one of the key last-line antibiotics… Our findings imply hospitals are the key facilitator of transmission [and suggest that] the bacteria are spreading from person-to-person primarily within hospitals.”
The spread of superbugs is going beyond Europe, posing threats to the humankind. According to a report by Britain’s Advisory Committee on Antimicrobial Prescribing, Resistance, more than 10 million people will likely die from infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria every year after 2050, if the current trend continues, causing astronomical amounts of social costs.
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