What’s the scuttlebutt?
Last week we learned that a woman in Reno, NV, died from an antibiotic-resistant superbug. This particular superbug was resistant to 26 different types of antibiotics—AKA all of the antibiotics available in the United States.
According to the Center Disease Control and Prevention, antibiotic resistance is already linked to 23,000 deaths per year.
Um. What? How does this even happen?
Not totally clear.
The biggest threat to antibiotic resistance so far has been mcr-1—a gene that allows certain types of bacteria to pass bacteria back and forth to one other, spreading bacteria more easily and increasing the likelihood of bacteria resistance, according to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention.
The bacteria that killed this woman did not have mcr-1, which makes the case more mysterious (read: scary).
Here is a very basic overview of how antibiotic resistance happens, according to the World Health Organization:
Is this going to happen to me?
We don’t know, but there are a number of circumstances worth calling out as unique to this case.
The unnamed super bug victim had lived in India for a long time where she was hospitalized several times for a broken femur and a series of subsequent bone infections. According to PRI's coverage on the story, multi-drug-resistant bacteria are more common in India than they are in the US.
In mid-August, this woman checked into a hospital in Reno where doctors discovered she was infected with carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE)—bacteria that commonly live in the gut which is highly resistant to antibiotics.
All this to say that the chain of events that led to this infection aren’t a dime a dozen, but bacteria travels and antibiotic resistance is a growing global issue.
What are professionals saying about this?
Well, this was our favorite quote from the PRI article:
“I think this is the harbinger of future badness to come,” said Dr. James Johnson, a professor of infectious diseases medicine at the University of Minnesota and a specialist at the Minnesota VA Medical Center.
In general, the field is taking this seriously and treating this instance as a wake up call to evolve the way we handle antibiotic diagnoses both at home and across borders:
“If we’re waiting for some sort of major signal that we need to attack this internationally, we need an aggressive program, both domestically and internationally to attack this problem, here’s one more signal that we need to do that,” Lance Price, who heads the Antibiotic Resistance Action Center at George Washington University, told PRI.
Can we do anything about this?
In your own life, you can keep fighting the good fight on preventative care. In our mind, any time you can avoid antibiotics, it’s a win. Think eating healthy, maintaining an active lifestyle, and supplementing with preventative supplements like Uqora to keep you healthy and out of the doctor’s office.
Want to hear it straight from the horses' mouths?
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention's report on Antibiotic/Antimicrobial Resistance
- "Think antibiotic-resistant 'super-bugs' are only a distant threat? Think again" by Helen Branswell for PRI