Study author Dr. James Johnson of the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis and colleagues say the strain -- ST131 -- has been reported in multiple countries and encountered all over the United States.
The researchers analyzed resistant E. coli isolates -- a bacterial or strain that has been isolated -- collected during 2007 from hospitalized patients across the country, and identified 54 ST131 isolates that accounted for 67 percent to 69 percent of E. coli isolates exhibiting antibiotic resistance.
"If we could discover the sources of this strain, the transmission pathways that allow it to spread so effectively, and the factors that have led to its rapid emergence, we could find ways to intervene and possibly slow or halt this strain's emergence," Johnson says in a statement. "If this strain gains one additional resistance gene, it will become almost untreatable and will be a true superbug, which is a very concerning scenario."
The study is published in the Clinical Infectious Diseases.