ShareThis Page

Pa. woman with antibiotic-resistant bacteria didn't spread it, CDC says

Ben Schmitt
| Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016, 8:26 a.m.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta.
REUTERS
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta.

Federal health investigators said Friday that a Pennsylvania woman infected with an antibiotic-resistant bacteria does not appear to have spread it to anyone else.

The woman, whose hometown was not revealed, contracted bacteria with an antibiotic-resistant gene known as MCR-1 and has recovered, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report.

The MCR-1 gene gives bacteria carrying it resistance to a drug called colistin, which is used as a last resort for difficult-to-treat infections.

On Friday, the CDC, in a separate report, said another superbug surfaced in a 2-year-old girl in Connecticut, who traveled to the Caribbean over the summer. She got sick in June and was found to have the MCR-1 gene in her system. CDC doctors said they suspect her case was foodborne and she has since recovered.

Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist senior associate at the UPMC Center for Health Security, said more cases of MCR-1 detection should be expected.

“Antibiotic resistance is a worldwide phenomenon, and there is no reason to not expect this colistin resistance mechanism to spread any differently,” he said.

Investigators said they still don't know how the Pennsylvania woman picked up the superbug. She had no international travel for one year, no exposure to livestock and a “limited role in meal preparation with store-bought groceries,” the CDC found. But she visited four medical facilities and was housed in two of them for more than a week.

The gene is carried on a mobile piece of DNA, or plasmid, meaning it could move from one bacterium to another, spreading antibiotic resistance between bacterial species.

The woman marked the first detected United States case in May. She was being treated for a possible urinary tract infection when doctors discovered the gene. The CDC and the Pennsylvania Department of Health investigated her friends, family and contacts and the medical facilities where she was treated.

“No bacteria with the MCR-1 gene were detected among the 105 persons screened,” the CDC wrote in its report. “These findings suggest that the risk for transmission from a colonized patient to otherwise healthy persons, including persons with substantial exposure to the patient, might be relatively low.”

Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at bschmitt@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.