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United Kingdom: ESBL - a new type of antibiotic resistant bacteria - is spreading fast

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  • United Kingdom: ESBL - a new type of antibiotic resistant bacteria - is spreading fast

    Report from a conference

    Friday, September 24, 2010


    Presentations from British government scientists showed that a new, almost untreatable, type of antibiotic resistance in E. coli, known as extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) resistance, has spread from the handful of farms on which it had been identified, to more than one in three of all dairy farms in England and Wales.

    One study linked the rise of ESBL E. coli on farms to the increasing farm use of modern antibiotics classified by the WHO as critically important in human medicine.

    The same study will present evidence that the unregulated sale of animals from first infected farms has increased the problem.

    The conference heard that ESBL E. coli infections are increasing annually and currently affect approximately 30,000 people each year in England and Wales. They cause about 2,500 cases of blood poisoning. When blood poisoning occurs about half of all patients die within 30 days. ESBL resistance only became a significant problem in human medicine as recently as 2003, and the first case of ESBL E. coli in British farm animals was found on a cattle farm in Wales in 2004.

    Despite subsequently finding ESBL E. coli on a number of other cattle and pig farms, the Soil Association said that in 2006 Defra claimed that ESBL resistance was ‘at a very low level in livestock’, and that its emergence had ‘not been a direct result of antimicrobial usage in food producing animals’.

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    "Addressing chronic disease is an issue of human rights that must be our call to arms"
    Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief The Lancet

    ~~~~ Twitter:@GertvanderHoek ~~~ ~~~