A mutant strain of the superbug E.coli has been found on a British farm


Source of Article:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/3479029/A-mutant-strain-of-the-superbug-E.coli-has-been-found-on-a-British-farm.html

A new strain of the superbug version of E.coli has been found on a British dairy farm.


By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent
Last Updated: 5:45PM GMT 18 Nov 2008

The version of Escherichia coli O26 is believed to have emerged as a direct result of the heavy use of antibiotics on farmyard animals.

The discovery is the latest in a number of superbug versions of common food poisoning organisms found both on British farms and in the food chain.

However, this is only the third time that this type of mutant strain has been found anywhere in the world.

The Health Protection Agency denied there was any danger to public health because the bacteria would be killed in the pasteurisation process.

Other strains of E.coli have emerged over the past two years as well as new versions of campylobacter, which is the most common cause of food poisoning.

These bugs have been associated with thousands of infections and deaths, particularly among vulnerable groups such as the elderly.

The problem with these bugs is that doctors find it difficult to find effective treatments when a human becomes infected through food or contact with an animal.

Recently released minutes of a Government committee reveal that ministers have been briefed about the emergence of the mutant E.coli O26 on a British dairy farm.

Infection causes life-threatening cases of food poisoning, including haemorrhagic colitis and haemolytic uraemic syndrome, which are a particular threat to children.

Cows are routinely given antibiotics to prevent udder infection - but there is mounting evidence antibiotic-resistant bacteria in farm animals is being passed on to humans

E. coli O26 is a vera-toxin producing bug, similar to the infamous E. coli O157, which has been implicated in a number of fatal food poisoning outbreaks.

This is the first time that this particular bug, with an enhanced antibiotic resistance known as extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL), has been found in this country.

Superbugs with similar characteristics already affect an estimated 30,000 people in the UK each year and contributes to thousands of deaths from urinary-tract and blood-poisoning infections.

The latest discovery has been revealed by the organic farming and lobby group the Soil Association, which campaigns against the heavy use of antibiotics in food production.




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