The Department of Defense has revealed that a woman in Pennsylvania was detected carrying a strain of E. coli with 15 different genes conferring antibiotic resistance, included the gene mcr-1, marking the first time mediated colistin resistance (MCR) has been found in the United States.
The Phenomena blog notes the existence of MCR was reported for the first time just last November in several areas of China. Since then, it has been found in people, animals and meat in at least 20 countries.
This is a concern because MCR creates resistance against colistin, a toxic early antibiotic that is seldom prescribed due to side effects but remains effective as the last resort.
Stat notes that laboratories at Walter Reed only started screening E. coli samples for the gene just this month and already have a positive. Since the gene is carried on a mobile chunk of DNA called a plasmid, it can move from one bacterium to another.
Dr. Gerry Wright, Director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at McMaster University said, "This is something we expected, the mcr-1 gene has been reported across the globe (including Canada) since it was first reported in November of last year. The US was actually an anomaly in not finding it until now. I expect it’s been around for some time, just not detected. Because the patient has no reported travel history, you can predict with certainty that mcr-1 is established in the USA."
Meanwhile, politicians have been quick to start blaming American farmers and drug farmers for this - despite the fact that it originated in China.