Printer Friendly

Antibiotic-eating germ alarms doctors.

For 50 years, doctors have been assailing bacteria with the best antimicrobials science can devise, but the bugs have shown a remarkable ability to adapt to the onslaught. Bacteria not only survive, they thrive. Worse, they continue to feast on people, which is why doctors are so concerned about antibiotic-resistant microbes.

Now, researchers at St. George's Hospital Medical School in London say they have isolated a bacterium from two patients that is not only resistant to an antibiotic but actually dependent upon it. This bacterium, a strain of Enterococcus faecium, cannot survive without a steady diet of vancomycin, report Nadia Farrag, Ian Eltringham, and Helen Liddy in the Dec. 7 Lancet. This finding suprised the researchers because vancomycin is one of the most potent antibiotics known.

The two patients were men in their sixties. One had a ruptured esophagus that required emergency treatment, and the other had undergone prostate cancer surgery. Both developed Enterococcus infections and were treated with vancomycin. The antibiotic initially seemed to banish the infection, but the bugs bounced back. When researchers began testing the germs, they found the vancomycin-dependent strains, which alarmed them. "Have we at last witnessed the emergence of a true superbug?" the trio asked, tabloid-style, in Lancet.

Mark Wilks, a microbiologist at St. Bartholomew's Hospital Medical College in London, blames this "rhetorical flourish" for "elevating an interesting laboratory phenomenon to the status of yet another health panic."
COPYRIGHT 1996 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Biomedicine; Enterococcus faecium bacterium survives on diet of the antibiotic vancomycin
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Dec 21, 1996
Previous Article:Homing in on the prostrate gene.
Next Article:Cosmic carbon chemistry.

Related Articles
Super-bugs arrive.
Beyond Vancomycin.
Trends in Antimicrobial-Drug Resistance in Japan.
Antibiotic resistance is coming to dinner.
Antibiotic resistance patterns of bacterial isolates from blood in San Francisco County, California, 1996-1999. (Research).
Excretion of Vancomycin-resistant enterococci by wild mammals. (Dispatches).
First characterization of a cluster of VanA-type glycopeptide-resistant Enterococcus faecium, Colombia.
Global spread of vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium from distinct nosocomial genetic complex.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters