Rare E. coli ‘superbug’ found in California

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This 2006 colorized scanning electron micrograph image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the O157:H7 strain of the E. coli bacteria. Bacteria with a special type of resistance to antibiotics have been found for a second time in the U.S., increasing worries that the country will soon see a superbug that cannot be treated with known medications. This case, first reported in a medical journal Monday, July 11, 2016, occurred a year earlier in New York. (Janice Carr/CDC via AP)


A Los Angeles county resident was infected with a rare, drug resident E. coli bacteria which marks a first for California and prompted local public health officials to issue an advisory Tuesday.

Public health officials said there was no evidence that the E. coli infection was spreading locally and noted that the patient, a man who died last year, likely acquired the bacteria during international travel.

But the concern is that the “superbug”, or mcr-1, has shown to be resistant to an antibiotic known as colistin, which is deemed one of the few “last resort” antibiotics “used to treat infections caused by certain multi-drug resistant organisms,” according to the alert.

The bacteria were first identified in the United States in a Pennsylvania patient in May 2016, public health officials said. It has since been found in humans in five additional states and in animals from two states.

“The appearance of mcr-1 in Los Angeles serves as a reminder of the importance of infection control measures and antibiotic stewardship,” public health official said in an alert.

Los Angeles county health officials said they track antimicrobial resistance. Among patients in hospitals and health care settings, carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae — or CRE infections — were drug resistant. Last month, the health department mandated that CRE be reported by all acute care hospitals and skilled nursing facilities in Los Angeles County.

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