Farmed Fish Are Becoming More Dangerous to Eat

A report in Nature Communications has linked global warming to spreading antibiotic resistance in farmed fish and shellfish. This is why? Because seas and lakes are warming, albeit slower than our air; bacteria adore this warmer environment; fish farmers are dosing the hapless sea-life with ever increasing doses of prophylactic antibiotics, in the fond but futile hope of keeping them healthy long enough to be sold as food. All of this drives the development of antibiotic-resistant bacterial species – which can and do confer their resistance unto nonresistant bacterial species. Aquaculture is now responsible for more than half the fish and seafood consumption around the world.


Insectageddon: They’re starving

A host of sources warn that locusts aside, insects are declining, which is seriously bad news for posterity. Now a study done in the canton of Zurich, representative of all central Europe, and reported in Ecological Applications, has isolated a cause beyond rampant pesticide use and habitat devastation: they’re starving. Farming has “captured” vast areas and the diversity of food plants the insects need has dramatically shrunk over the past 100 years, leaving bees, butterflies and, yes, flies unable to find the food they need. Even leaving aside fly rights, this is seriously bad news because insects play an unimaginably enormous role in the ecology.


Measles – Romania

In a follow-up on the measles situation in Romania, the Institutul Naţional de Sănătate Publică reported an additional 54 new confirmed cases in 9 counties and in Bucharest during the past week. In 2019 through Sept. 6, 2,614 cases, including five deaths have been reported, the most in the EU.

Polio – Global

The total number of wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) cases on the globe has increased to 78 cases with the addition of five cases from Pakistan and Afghanistan during the past week.

Listeriosis – Spain

On 16 August 2019, Regional Health Authorities in Andalusia, Spain, reported an outbreak of listeriosis, caused by the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes (L. monocytogenes), associated with the consumption of a chilled roasted pork meat product manufactured in Spain by Magrudis Company Limited and sold under the brand name “La Mechá”. From 7 July through 13 September , a total of 222 confirmed cases linked to this outbreak have been reported in five regions of Spain.

Italy – Superbug NDM-1 outbreak reported in Tuscany

Health officials in Tuscany, Italy are reporting an outbreak of the antibiotic resistant superbug bacterium, New Delhi metallo-β-lactamase-1 (NDM-1) Carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae in hospitals since November 2018. Between November 2018 and August 31, 2019 the NDM bacteria were isolated in the blood of 75 patients. Infections vary from being asymptomatic to potentially life-threatening or fatal. The level of risk depends on which part of the body is affected by the infection, and the general health of the patient.

African Swine Fever – Japan

Japanese officials have culled 753 pigs in Saitama Prefecture north of Tokyo after detecting an outbreak of swine fever. The cull, which took place on Saturday, was necessary after it was determined that pigs raised in the prefecture for shipment to central Japan were infected. Saitama also decided to halt shipments from two other pig farms in the area of the outbreak.

Dengue Fever – Nepal

Six people have died of dengue and over 5096 diagnosed positive across Nepal since the outbreak was declared in May. The first outbreak of the disease in the Himalayan nation occurred in 2006 when 5 cases were identified.


Antibiotic resistant E. coli found in France – in drinking water

Antibiotic resistant E. coli has been found in multiple drinking water supplies in France. The resistance counters the critically important cephalosporin antibiotics. The findings highlight the presence of expanding reservoirs of these resistance genes, including reservoirs in the environment.

“Drinking water is a well-recognized source of direct human contamination with waterborne pathogens, but the risk of human transfer of resistance genes has rarely been documented,” the investigators write. They note just several studies of resistance gene-contaminated water in developing nations “with poor water supply systems and/or sanitation facilities, coupled with limited controls of antibiotic usage and residues.” But their study is likely the first report from a high income country that documents production of this resistance gene, by E. coli, in drinking water supplies.

In the study, the investigators sampled 28 water supply systems throughout France. They collected one litre water samples from the locations where drinking water enters the distribution system. The water supplies sampled were chosen on the basis of having had water quality failures—detection of coliform bacteria which serve as indicators of faecal contamination—during the previous three years.

Puerto Rico Zika outbreak rises

One week after the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared a Zika public health emergency for the Commonwealth, health officials in Puerto Rico reported an additional 2,506 Zika virus cases, bringing the total to 13,186 cumulative confirmed cases since the virus arrived on the island.

Of the total cases this past week, seventy-one were in pregnant women, putting the total to over 1100.

Anthrax in Bangladesh

Health officials in Sirajganj, Bangladesh are reporting an addition 25 human anthrax cases in Shahzadpur upazila in recent days, according to local media. This is the third wave of anthrax cases in the upazila since May. The outbreak is linked to anthrax tainted meat. All the cases are considered cutaneous anthrax, according to the report.

Nigeria – Lassa Fever

The Delta State Ministry of Health has confirmed one person dead and 32 others on surveillance following a reported case of Lassa fever.


‘Last-Resort’ Antibiotics Fail Against New Superbugs

Some bacteria have finally breached the last wall of humans’ antibiotic stronghold, according to a new study from China. In the study, researchers found a gene in one strain of Escherichia coli (E. coli) that protects these bacteria against one of the antibiotics considered to be a last resort. Moreover, this gene is easily transferred among microbial species, raising the possibility of multiple epidemics that doctors would be unable to treat.

When bacteria become resistant to even the last-resort antibiotics and can share that resistance with other types of bacteria, that leaves the human population extremely vulnerable to a range of infections that would be unstoppable.

In the study, the researchers found the gene, called mcr-1, in samples of E. coli that were taken from pigs, pork products and infected people. The gene protects the bacteria against an antibiotic called colistin. Mcr-1 was most common in the samples taken from animals, suggesting that it originated in livestock, the researchers said. In China, colistin is widely administered to livestock.

Animals that are raised for people to eat are routinely given antibiotics to protect the livestock against infection, and to stimulate their growth. But the constant presence of antibiotics in the livestock diet helps drive the increasing numbers of antibiotic resistant bacteria today, researchers say.

Colistin isn’t a recent addition to the drug arsenal. It was discovered in 1947, and was used widely through the 1960s, but the drug had toxic effects on the kidneys and nervous system. Doctors mostly abandoned colistin after newer and safer antibiotics came along.

But sitting on the shelf for decades is exactly what kept colistin viable in the battle against drug-resistant bacteria. Because microbes had little exposure to colistin, they did not have much opportunity to evolve protection against it. As the list of effective antibiotics has shrunk, colistin has remained one of the last reliable lines of defense against bacterial infection.

That is, until now. In the new study, the researchers found the gene for colistin resistance in bacterial structures called plasmids, which are small circles of DNA that are easily passed from one bacterium to another, and even between different bacterial species.

Researchers have long known that the use of antibiotics, in both agriculture and in medicine, has encouraged bacteria to do what they’ve excelled at for more than 3 billion years: evolve and survive.

The new drug-resistant bacteria have not been found outside of China, the investigators said. But the researchers warned there is a strong possibility this drug-resistance gene could spread.

Right now, preventing bacterial infections with measures such as vaccinations and good hand hygiene are more vital then ever. He noted that antibiotics are useful only against bacterial infections, and that taking antibiotics when they’re not needed just gives bacteria another chance to beef up their drug-resistant defences.


Antibiotic-resistant ‘superbug’ threatens US cities

A relatively new antibiotic-resistant bacterium called CRE is making inroads in some major American cities, U.S. health officials report.

Surveillance of seven U.S. metropolitan areas found higher-than-expected levels of CRE in Atlanta, Baltimore and New York City, according to the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention; while lower-than-expected levels were found in Albuquerque, Denver and Portland, Oregon, while the Minneapolis rate was what the agency anticipated.

But CDC researchers were dismayed that they found active cases of CRE infection in every city they examined, said senior author Dr Alexander Kallen, a CDC medical officer.

About 9 percent of people died due to their infection from CRE, the researchers found. But some estimates have held that as many as 50 percent of CRE infections contribute to death if they lead to a bloodstream infection.


Spread of Ebola slows in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone, the country worst affected by Ebola, reported nearly 250 new confirmed cases in the past week but the spread of the virus there may be slowing, the World Health Organisation said this morning.

The death toll from Ebola has reached 8,235 out of 20,747 known cases worldwide over the past year. Overall, 838 health workers have been infected, with 495 dead.

The WHO’s weekly report was based on figures reported by authorities in nine countries.

Revolutionary New Antibiotic Kills Drug-Resistant Germs

Scientists have discovered a new class of antibiotics that can kill a wide range of dangerous, drug-resistant bacteria.

Moreover, in lab experiments, bacteria didn’t develop resistance to the new drug, called Teixobactin, and in fact may need several decades to do so because of the drug’s special mode of action, the researchers said.

The problem of drug-resistant bacteria is a serious public health threat, and finding new antibiotics to tackle resistant bacteria is a difficult job. Existing methods for isolating promising compounds from bacterial cultures often turn up only the types of antibiotics already in use, according to the study.

In the new study, however, the researchers developed fresh methods to find antibiotics. They studied 10,000 strains of bacteria that live in the soil, and grew them in their natural habitat. The researchers then isolated compounds made by the bacteria and tested them against disease-causing bacteria.

The new antibiotic, Teixobactin, was one of those compounds. In experiments in mice, the researchers showed Teixobactin was effective in treating animals infected with bacteria such as Mycobacterium tuberculous (which causes tuberculosis) and Staphylococcus aureus (which can infect people’s skin and other tissues). Some strains of these bacteria are already resistant to one or more of antibiotics, making infections extremely difficult to treat in people.


Middle respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) – update

The first case of the deadly virus that surfaced in Saudi Arabia in 2012 has been reported in the United States, officials at the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention announced today (May 2).

Call for action on antibiotic resistance

A UN report released Thursday draws on data from 114 countries and focuses on antibiotic resistance to bacteria that cause common but serious diseases such as sepsis, diarrhoea, pneumonia, urinary tract infections and gonorrhoea “Without urgent, co-ordinated action, the world is headed for a post-antibiotic era in which common infections can once again kill.”

About half of all antibiotic prescriptions are estimated to be unnecessary, which is driving the development of drug-resistant “super-bugs”.

In India, Thailand and Vietnam people can buy antibiotics without a prescription.

Resistance to carbapenem, the last resort for treating Klebsiella pneumonia, has been recorded throughout the world. Klebsiella pneumonia is a major cause of hospital-acquired infections such as pneumonia, sepsis, infections in newborns and intensive-care unit patients.

“Unless we take significant actions to improve efforts to prevent infections and also change how we produce, prescribe and use antibiotics, the world will lose more and more of these global public health goods and the implications will be devastating.”

This report is kick-starting a global effort led by WHO to address drug resistance. This will involve improved collaboration to track drug resistance, measure its health and economic impacts, and design solutions.

Ordinary people can help by using antibiotics only when prescribed by a doctor, completing the full prescription, even if they feel better, and never sharing antibiotics with others.


Poliovirus in Israel, West Bank and Gaza Strip

WHO considers the risk of further international spread of wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) from Israel to be high. The risk assessment reflects evidence of increasing geographic extent of WPV1 circulation in Israel over a prolonged period of time. Recently, WPV1 has also been isolated from sewage samples collected by the Palestinian Authority , both in West Bank and the Gaza Strip. No cases of paralytic polio have been reported by Israel or the Palestinian Authority.

Antibiotic Use Warning: Drug Resistance Growing

The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) called on the health care industry and agriculture to cut back on the use of antibiotics to avoid worsening resistance to the medications. “If we don’t act now, our medicine cabinet will be empty and we won’t have the antibiotics we need to save lives,” warned CDC director Tom Frieden.

The centre estimates that 23,000 Americans die each year due to bacteria already resistant to even the most potent forms of the medicine.

It warns that patients need to understand that antibiotics are not the solution to every illness, and that half of the prescriptions written for them by doctors are not necessary.

Pressure is also mounting for the FDA to ban feeding antibiotics to livestock simply to fatten them up.

The CDC says such use is not necessary “and the practice should be phased out.”

Some farmers argue that when livestock are crammed into huge feedlots, antibiotics keep them from getting infections from other animals.