CDC microbiologist Kitty Anderson looks at a 96-well plate used for testing the ability of bacteria to grow in the presence of various antibiotics. (Melissa Dankel/CDC)

Germs with Unusual Antibiotic Resistance Widespread in U.S.

Health departments working with CDC’s Antibiotic Resistance (AR) Lab Network found more than 220 instances of germs with “unusual” antibiotic resistance genes in the United States last year, according to a CDC Vital Signs report released today.

Germs with unusual resistance include those that cannot be killed by all or most antibiotics, are uncommon in a geographic area or the U.S., or have specific genes that allow them to spread their resistance to other germs.

Rapid identification of the new or rare threats is the critical first step in CDC’s containment strategy to stop the spread of antibiotic resistance (AR). When a germ with unusual resistance is detected, facilities can quickly isolate patients and begin aggressive infection control and screening actions to discover, reduce, and stop transmission to others.

“CDC’s study found several dangerous pathogens, hiding in plain sight, that can cause infections that are difficult or impossible to treat,” said CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat, M.D. “It’s reassuring to see that state and local experts, using our containment strategy, identified and stopped these resistant bacteria before they had the opportunity to spread.”

Other study findings showed:

  • One in four germ samples sent to the AR Lab Network for testing had a special genes that allow them to spread their resistance to other germs.
  • Further investigation in facilities with unusual resistance revealed that about one in 10 screening tests, from patients without symptoms, identified a hard-to-treat germ that spreads easily. This means the germ could have spread undetected in that health care facility.

Read more at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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