26 antibiotics and the 'drug of last resort' fail to treat infection superbug

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published a report confirming the death of a patient whose infection was resistant to all available antimicrobial drugs.

The 70 year old had contracted New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase in India, and was hospitalised upon return to the US.

Dr David Brown, chief scientist at Antibiotic Research UK, said: “It is still quite unusual for a bacterial infection to be resistant to such a large number of antibiotics.

“Fortunately it is an extreme case, but it may soon become all too common.

“It happened because of her personal history of multiple hospitalisations in India, however, the ease of global travel does mean that such cases will increase.”

Prof Laura Piddock, from Antibiotic Action and the University of Birmingham, said: “Despite such multi-drug resistant bacteria being rare, this report is a salutary tale of the dire outcome for some patients when potentially useful drugs are not available.

“In circumstances such as this, where doctors are faced with the inability to treat a life-threatening infection, they need the flexibility to use antibiotics licensed for use in other countries and shown to be active in the laboratory against the patient’s infecting bacterium.”

The World Health Organisation has recently published a collection of frequently asked questions about the role of immunisation in addressing the rise of antimicrobial resistance.

Please click here to read the WHO’s FAQs.