Bacteria Resistant to “Last-Resort” Antibiotic Detected in US

By Bianca Jackson

Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria resistant to the “last resort” antibiotic, colistin, have been detected in the United States. The gene conferring resistance to colistin, mcr-1, was first detected in a pig in China in November of 2015 and has now been confirmed in other parts of Asia, the US and Europe. A Pennsylvania woman became the first human case of colistin-resistant E. coli infection, and it is likely that more cases will be detected as surveillance efforts intensify. Bacteria are able to share genetic material bacterium-to-bacterium so there are fears that the mcr-1 gene could be acquired by bacteria that are already resistant to an array of other antibiotics, making them into “superbugs.”

To prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance, the public is advised to:

  • Practice regular hand washing
  • Practice safe food hygiene
  • Keep vaccinations up to date
  • Only take antibiotics when prescribed by a certified health professional
  • Always take the full course of antibiotics
  • Never share antibiotics with others

Healthcare professionals are advised to:

  • Keep working environments and instruments clean
  • Send samples of suspected bacterial infections for testing
  • Only prescribe antibiotics when they are necessary
  • Give the right antibiotic at the right dose at the right time


  1. WHO 2015. “Antibiotic Resistance.”
  2. Washington Post. “Updated: Superbug found in Illinois and South Carolina.” 
  3. CDC. “Discovery of first mcr-1 gene in E. coli bacteria found in a human in United States.”


Category: news

Posted on: Jul 6, 2016 | Share:
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