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Researchers identify new antibiotic-resistant strain of E. coli in China

By Ernie Mundell, HealthDay News
A new, more virulent version of E. coli was found to be behind two E. coli outbreaks at a children's hospital in China, according to a new study. Photo courtesy of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
A new, more virulent version of E. coli was found to be behind two E. coli outbreaks at a children's hospital in China, according to a new study. Photo courtesy of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A new and worrisome antibiotic-resistant form of E. coli has been identified at a children's hospital in China.

Already, so-called ST410 strains of the E. coli bacterium -- resistant to last-resort antibiotics called carbapenems -- have become the most common drug-resistant strains seen in Chinese hospitals, according to British researchers.

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But a new, more virulent version of ST410, called B5/H24RxC, was found to be behind two E. coli outbreaks at a children's hospital in China, according to the report published recently in the journal Nature Communications.

This variant is highly infectious, and it appears to grow faster and cause more harm to living organisms that its predecessors, researchers warned.

The new variant "is becoming both more antimicrobial-resistant and more pathogenic," said study co-author Alan McNally, who directs the Institute of Microbiology and Infection at the University of Birmingham, in England.

"This is a worrying new trend and we would now urge surveillance labs across the world to be on the lookout for this new clone, which we know has spread beyond China," he said in a university news release.

His team believes that carbapenems will be ineffective against the bacteria.

The new study involved samples taken from 26 Chinese provinces between 2017 and 2021.

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According to the researchers, ST410 strains of the E. coli bacterium were the most widespread carbapenem-resistant forms of the germ throughout China.

The strains often turned up in urine samples, suggesting they could be driving cases of antibiotic-resistant urinary tract infections.

"Our study highlights the evolving landscape of antimicrobial resistance within clinically significant pathogens, such as E. coli, emphasizing the urgent need for collaborative efforts to address and mitigate this escalating challenge in global public health," said study lead author Dr. Ibrahim Xiaoling Ba, a senior research associate in the department of veterinary medicine at the University of Cambridge.

More information

Find out more about E. coli at the Mayo Clinic.

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