The news is BAD but not SURPRISING

Ars Technica says hang on, there’s some bad reporting of the “nightmare” “superbug” going around. Read the whole thing; I’ll share a few takeaways.

It’s important to note that we don’t know exactly how long mcr-1 has been hanging around in bacteria or where it first came from. It may have spread around the globe in months or been lying low and spreading quietly for years. Either way, it was inevitable and expected that mcr-1-carrying bacteria would pop up in the US. (Although, in weeks of testing other bacteria from the Pennsylvania clinic where the patient was identified, no other mcr-1-carrying bacteria have been found.)

While concerns still stand, the alarmist headlines are unnecessary—and so are the errors.

Here’s what you can ignore

First, the “first” bit. The first line of the Post’s article states: “For the first time, researchers have found a person in the United States carrying bacteria resistant to antibiotics of last resort.”

Nope—this isn’t even close to true. This is absolutely not the first time a person in the US has been found with a bacteria resistant to a last-resort antibiotic. There are several last-resort antibiotics, and many bacteria over the years have shown up with resistance to them—including colistin.

So…the news is terrible, it’s just that it’s not all that new.

Here’s the quick take-away

Thursday’s report of a mcr-1-based colistin-resistant bacterial infection in a US patient is concerning, but unsurprising. The plasmid based resistant gene threatens to spread to other bacteria, potentially to ones that are already resistant to last resort drugs, such as CRE. However, the trajectory of mcr-1’s emergence and its contribution to drug resistant infection trends is not yet clear. For now, the case serves mostly to highlight the ongoing crisis of rising antibiotic resistance and furthers the need for better stewardship of old antibiotics and development of new ones.

Well I was already plenty scared of the ongoing crisis of rising antibiotic resistance, so…ok.

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