New E. coli Strains Could Spell Epidemic

Drug-resistant bacteria may rival MRSA threat, researchers warn
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 19, 2008 12:57 PM CST
New E. coli Strains Could Spell Epidemic
Kevin Kowalyck died at age 2 of an E. coli infection from hamburger. If the new, antibiotic-resistant straings of E. coli start spreading outside of hospitals, many other children will be at risk.   (KRT Photos)

New drug-resistant strains of E. coli have doctors worried that the mutant bacteria could become a superbug to rival MRSA, the drug-resistant form of staphylococcus that kills hundreds hospital patients each year, the Daily Telegraph reports. The spread of the new E.coli strains must be carefully tracked to avoid an epidemic, Canadian scientists write in a new paper.

Funding is needed to figure out which strains are causing the most deadly infections, aiding development of more effective, targeted antibiotics, the research team says. The elderly are most at risk, especially those in hospitals and nursing homes, where such bugs can spread rapidly. The big worry is that the bacteria will spread into the general public, as MRSA has recently done. (More E. coli stories.)

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