A deadly strain of hospital superbug MRSA has become resistant to last-line antibiotics.
MRSA is a type of bacterial infection that is resistant to a number of widely used antibiotics. The bacterium is common, and is often carried on the skin, inside the nostrils and inside the throat. However, if the bacteria get into a break in the skin they can cause life-threatening infections.
Patients, visitors and healthcare staff should use antibacterial hand gel to prevent the spread of MRSA
If you develop MRSA it is likely that you will be given a course of antibiotics that your strain of MRSA is not resistant to. Vancomycin is a key last-line bactericidal drug for treating these infections.
But U.S Researchers have discovered that since 2002, there have been 12 cases of a particular strain of MRSA that are resistant to vancomycin.
Scientists from Harvard University, the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and the Broad Institute in Cambridge studied the strain of MRSA, called CC5, to find out how it became resistant to the last-line antibiotic.
Writing in the American Society for Microbiology, the researchers found that CC5 lineages have adaptions that allow them to co-exist with other types of bacteria, and pick up resistant genes instead of killing off competing organisms.
Researcher Jim Sliwa said: 'Vancomycin is a key last-line bactericidal drug for treating these infections.'
'In hospitals, pathogens are under continuous pressure from antibiotics to survive and evolve, and CC5 isolates appear to be very well adapted to succeed by acquiring new resistances.'
'Frequent use of antibiotics in hospital patients could select for strains like CC5 that have an enhanced ability to co-exist with bacteria that provide genes for antibiotic resistance.'
Whilst the number of cases of this type of drug is small, scientists urge that the possibility that it could overwhelm even last line drugs is very serious.
One of the benefits of having private medical insurance is being able to choose the private hospital you want to be treated at. Some private hospitals have zero cases of MRSA, compared to many busy NHS hospitals. Compare health insurance policies with full inpatient cover.
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