Antibiotic resistance: multi-resistant intestinal germ on the advance
Escherichia coli bacteria can cause dangerous gastrointestinal infections, which can even be fatal. Researchers have now found that a multi-resistant strain of this intestinal germ has been spreading rapidly in Germany for years. It can become particularly dangerous for weakened patients.
Threat from multi-resistant germs
Resistant strains of bacteria are a growing deadly threat. If the problem is not brought under control soon, researchers fear a horror scenario. According to an older study by the Berlin Charité, there could be around ten million deaths from multi-resistant germs by 2050. Scientists at the University of Gießen have now found an Escherichia coli strain that is insensitive to several antibiotics at the same time and has been spreading rapidly here in Germany.
Infections difficult to treat
The increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria leads to infections that are difficult to treat, especially in hospitals. Frequent triggers are the multi-resistant Escherichia coli bacteria, which have developed special enzymes to make the antibiotics ineffective.
Scientists from the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) at the University of Gießen have now examined these bacteria in more detail and found an Escherichia coli strain that has been spreading rapidly in Germany since 2010 and is insensitive to several antibiotics at the same time.
The experts report on their results in the "Emerging Infectious Diseases" magazine.
Pathogens are particularly feared in clinics
As the DZIF explains in a statement, Escherichia coli, E. coli for short, is one of the gram-negative enterobacteria that is primarily at home in the human gut.
Some strains can cause infections if they get into the rest of the body. Especially in weakened patients, bloodstream infections, wound or urinary tract infections can occur.
Your treatment is becoming increasingly difficult because in the fight against antibiotics, E. coli bacteria and other enterobacteria have developed a defense mechanism:
They form enzymes that can make antibiotics ineffective: the so-called beta-lactamases with an extended spectrum (ESBL). Due to their mechanism, the bacterial pathogens become multi-resistant and are particularly feared in clinics.
Bacteria spread worldwide
"We have to keep an eye on a subset of a multi-resistant E. coli bacterium that we found in our current study," explains Prof. Trinad Chakraborty, director of the Institute for Medical Microbiology at Justus Liebig University (JLU) in Gießen and coordinator at the DZIF location in Gießen-Marburg-Langen.
This sub-group is currently spreading worldwide and has now also been found in Germany.
In their study, the Giessen-based scientists examined a total of almost 1,000 isolates of ESBL-producing bacteria from humans, animals, the environment and food.
Your approach is in the spirit of the One Health approach, which not only includes people, but also their environment in the studies.
In doing so, they specifically identified the genes for the beta-lactamases and searched for a sub-group that is already on the rise in other countries.
Responsible for millions of infections
This is a multi-resistant E. coli strain of sequence type 131 (ST131), which is responsible for millions of infections worldwide, especially bloodstream infections and cystitis, and which carries a relatively rare ESBL gene, namely blaCTX-M-27 .
The search was successful: The researchers found E. coli ST131 CTX-M27 only in human isolates and were able to demonstrate that its frequency increased from 0 percent in 2009 to 45 percent in 2016.
"This E. coli strain with its specific ESBL gene competes with an E. coli ST131 strain that has been most frequently detected in Germany and carries another ESBL gene," said Dr. Can Imirzalioglu, scientist from the University of Gießen.
Further studies are needed here to investigate the causes and clinical significance of this shift.
Nevertheless, the results show how important the use of modern methods such as genome sequencing is in order to observe such developments and to be able to react quickly if necessary. (ad)