Bacteria causing UTIs, respiratory infections poised to become resistant

Research out of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis shows bacteria that frequently cause urinary tract infections and respiratory infections in hospital settings are on the verge of becoming resistant to antibiotics.

The study found that two genes that lead to resistance to carbapenems can be shared among a family of bacteria that cause a large portion of hospital-acquired infections.

"Carbapenems are one of our last resorts for treating bacterial infections, what we use when nothing else works," said Gautam Dantas, PhD, one of the study's authors. "Given what we know now, I don't think it's overstating the case to say that for certain types of infections, we may be looking at the start of the post-antibiotic era, a time when most of the antibiotics we rely on to treat bacterial infections are no longer effective."

The study findings suggest that it will get easier for bacteria that are not yet resistant to pick up the gene that makes them resistant to carbapenem treatment, according to Dr. Dantas.

He, as well as other experts, recommend limiting the use of carbapenems to cases where no other antibiotic would work.

The study — which researchers from Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis and the National University of Sciences and Technology in Pakistan also contributed to — was published online in Emerging Infectious Diseases.

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