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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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New E. coli Strain Causes Trouble
4 October 2001 7:00 pm
Doctors have discovered a new bacterial strain that accounts for a striking portion of drug-resistant urinary tract infections among women. The bug's prevalence over a wide geographic area cannot be accounted for by its usually sluggish mode of transmission.
Urinary tract infections affect 11% of U.S. women each year. Because they typically spread from person to person through the ingestion of fecal material, epidemics in which the same strain spreads over a large area are rare. Most urinary tract infections are easily cured with standard antibiotics, but in some parts of the country as many as 20% only respond to a combination of powerful drugs.
To study the epidemiology of the disease, Lee Riley and his colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, examined bacteria in urine samples of 228 women who sought treatment at Berkeley's health center. To their surprise, they found that a single, previously unknown Escherichia coli strain accounted for more than half of the 55 drug-resistant infections. A follow-up study found that the same strain, dubbed "clonal group A," also caused about 40% of resistant infections in two smaller study sites in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Such simultaneous outbreaks are common for E. coli strains that cause food poisoning, but are hard to explain through the fecal transmission route, Riley and his team write in the 4 October issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. The researchers theorize that the bacteria in each of the three locations share a common recent origin.
Such a scenario is possible and contaminated food may be the culprit, says Walter Stamm, an infectious disease expert at the University of Washington in Seattle. But he cautions that further study is needed to determine whether this strain poses a major risk to public health.