Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Resistant diseases news - Plague edition

Earlier today I wrote about how some strains of TB have become resistant to antibiotics.

Well, it turns out it's not the only disease where this has been observed. The Guardian reports:

Drug-resistant form of plague identified

A multiple drug-resistant form of the plague, one of the oldest and most lethal diseases in human history, has been identified by scientists, prompting fears of devastating future outbreaks that cannot be contained by antibiotics.

Tests on a strain of the disease-causing bacterium, Yersinia pestis, taken from a 16-year-old boy in Madagascar revealed the organism has developed resistance to eight antibiotics used to treat the infection, including streptomycin and tetracyclin.

The bacterium is believed to have become resistant to drugs after swapping genes with common food bacteria such as salmonella, E coli and klebsiella, probably while being carried in the guts of fleas, which spread the disease by biting infected rodents.


I don't expect that I have to explain why a senario of a resistent form of the plague is frightening the experts.

Update: PLoS One has an relevant article to this post: Multiple Antimicrobial Resistance in Plague: An Emerging Public Health Risk

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