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Genes discovered in Georgia waters could be a global threat

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A gene has been detected in Georgia’s sewers that makes bacteria resistant to colistin, one of the world’s most important antibiotics. The presence of the MCR-9 gene is a major public health concern as it causes antimicrobial resistance. This is an issue declared by the World Health Organization to be “one of the top 10 public health threats facing humanity in the world.”


Researchers at the University of Georgia’s Food Safety Center (CFS) collected sewage from the urban environment of Georgia and tested the MCR gene for naturally occurring bacteria. The team, led by Issmat Kassem, an assistant professor at the University of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, is conducting research focused on the existence of MCRs around the world and was surprised to find MCRs quickly. They found evidence of the gene in the first sample taken.

Kasem said the gene is being established in the United States.

The bacterium Morganella morganii, whose gene was found, added further concerns about Kasem. This is the first time MCR has been discovered on M. morganii, which is problematic because it is a bacterium that is not frequently tested by researchers. This means that the problem can be much more extensive than originally thought.

Dissemination of MCR in agriculture, imports and travel

It was previously believed that agriculture was the driving force behind the spread of MCR. In countries such as China and India, colistin antibiotics are used in livestock. Colistin is considered a “last resort” antibiotic because it can kill infections that other antibiotics cannot. Its frequent use means that some bacteria have become resistant to it. This means that if a person or animal is infected with a strain of colistin-resistant strain, there may not be a cure for the infection. They face extreme and invasive health measures and the potential for death.

Colistin has been banned in the United States for use in food animals, and it was previously thought that this measure would help slow the spread of antimicrobial resistance to colistin in the United States. However, MCR can spread by traveling around the world and importing food from other countries. The results of the CFS study prove that the United States is as vulnerable to threats as any other country in the world.

Further complicating the matter is the way genes spread. It is transmitted by a plasmid. A plasmid is a strand of DNA inside a cell that can replicate on its own, independent of the cell. The antibacterial resistant plasmids found in one type of bacterium can infect other types of bacteria. It is possible that bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Salmonella, which commonly cause outbreaks in humans, can potentially carry MCR and change them from curable diseases to potentially deadly infections. Means there is.

How much do you need to worry about the MCR-9 gene?

Kasem said that the global threat of antimicrobial resistance, the presence of MCR in Georgia, its discovery inside commonly overlooked bacteria, and what happened without the use of colistin in US agriculture. He said it was a serious problem. It requires immediate action on the part of many industries, including research, healthcare and government, to work together towards a solution.

“If we don’t tackle it now, we’re endangering human and animal medicine as we know it, and it can have a huge impact on health and the economy,” Kasem said. Said. “This is a dangerous issue and requires attention from multiple sectors to tackle it properly.”

Due to this urgency, the findings are currently printed in short manuscripts. Global Antibacterial Resistance Journal.. It was funded through a CFS grant and other researchers involved were Jouman Hassan, David Mann, Shaoting Li and Xiangyu Deng.


The threat of “nightmare bacteria” resistant to the last resort antibiotic colistin


For more information:
Jouman Hassan et al, First report of the mobile colistin resistance gene mcr-9.1 in Morganella morganii isolated from sewage in Georgia, USA, Global Antibacterial Resistance Journal (2021). DOI: 10.1016 / j.jgar.2021.11.013

Quote: Gene discovered in Georgia waters, potential global threat (January 11, 2022) https://phys.org/news/2022-01-gene-georgia-global-threat.html Obtained from January 11, 2022

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Genes discovered in Georgia waters could be a global threat

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