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Epidemic of Escherichia coli infections traced to 1 strain of bacteria
Date:12/17/2013

WASHINGTON, D.C., and FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. Dec. 17, 2013 In the past decade, a single strain of Escherichia coli, or E. coli, has become the main cause of bacterial infections in women and the elderly by invading the bladder and kidneys, according to a study published today in the American Society for Microbiology's open access journal mBio.

Besides becoming more resistant to antibiotics, the strain H30-Rx gained an unprecedented ability to spread from the urinary tract to the blood, leading to the most lethal form of bacterial infections sepsis and posing a looming threat to the more than 10 million Americans who annually suffer from urinary tract infections (UTIs).

This new study could help trace the evolutionary history of this superbug and possibly lead to the development of a vaccine, according to Lance B. Price, Ph.D., the study's lead author. Price is professor of environmental and occupational health at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS), and is an associate professor in the Pathogen Genomics Division of the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

Previous research suggested that the ST131 group of E. coli a family of many genetically related strains of bacteria had independently gained resistance to antibiotics through separate genetic events. The ST131 group had been identified as a major source of superbugs microbes resistant to multiple antibiotics among UTI bacteria. If true, the existence of many different resilient strains would prove a formidable threat with multiple ways of evading the immune system and medical treatment, according to the new study.

Using advanced genomic techniques, Price and collaborators James R. Johnson of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the University of Minnesota, and Evgeni V. Sokurenko of the University of Washington School of Medicine discovered that the ST131 strains represented
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Contact: Kathy Fackelmann
kfackelmann@gwu.edu
202-994-8354
George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services
Source:Eurekalert  

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