Superbug Current Affairs - 2020

Drug-resistant superbug spreading in hospitals: Study

Researchers from University of Melbourne, Australian have found that superbug resistant to all known antibiotics and can cause severe infections or even death is spreading undetected through hospital wards across the world. They have discovered three variants of multidrug-resistant superbug in bacteria known as Staphylococcus epidermidis in samples collected from 10 countries, including strains in Europe that cannot be controlled by any drug currently in the market.

Key Facts

Scientists have found that bacteria known as Staphylococcus epidermidis is related to better-known and more deadly MRSA superbug. This bacterium is found naturally on human skin and most commonly infects elderly or patients who have had prosthetic materials implanted, such as catheters and joint replacements.

It can be deadly, but it is usually in patients who already are very sick in hospital and can be quite hard to eradicate and the infections can be severe. Some strains of Staphylococcus epidermidis bug have made mall change in its DNA that led to resistance to two of most common antibiotics.

These findings show urgent need for better understanding of how infections spread. Earlier, study had suggested some hospital superbugs are growing increasingly tolerant to alcohol-based disinfectants found in sanitisers  and handwashes used on hospital wards.

Scientists ‘unmask’ superbug-shielding protein

Scientists from University of Western Australia have successfully mapped three-dimensional molecular structure of EptA protein that shields superbugs from antibiotics.

The EptA protein causes multi-drug resistance by masking bacteria from both the human immune system and important antibiotics.

Key Facts
  • The shape of protein was mapped using technique called X-ray crystallography which is mainly used for determining the atomic and molecular structure of a crystal.
  • The protein, EptA, allows some strains to shrug off colistin, a last antibiotic available in the world for treating infections when all other antibiotics fail.
  • Significance: This mapping is a breakthrough because it will allow development of a drug to prevent superbugs hiding from medication. Thus, it open door to combating the threat of antibiotic resistance and is considered as a huge step forward in the global fight against superbugs. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), infections caused multi-drug resistant bacteria kills around 700,000 people each year. This figure is predicted to rise 10 million by 2050 justifying warnings of so-called antibiotic apocalypse which could be among the 21st Century’s greatest threats. A colistin-resistant strain of bacteria uncovered in 2015 is one of the grave concerns for health authorities. The spread of genes containing the colistan-resistant protein may make previously treatable bacterial infections untreatable.