Drug-resistant E. coli found in Vietnam

By Le Nga   April 16, 2019 | 07:43 pm PT
Drug-resistant E. coli found in Vietnam
3D illustration of Escherichia coli bacterium. Photo by Shutterstock/Kateryna Kon
A strain of the dangerous E. coli bacterium has been found to be resistant to carbapenems, used against multidrug-resistant bacteria, in Vietnam.

Carbapenems are antibiotic agents commonly used in the treatment of severe or high-risk bacterial infections.

It is currently the final solution against E. coli, Dr. Doan Mai Phuong, head of the microbiological sciences department at Hanoi’s giant Bach Mai Hospital, said.

"If not controlled, the antibiotic resistance will spread among bacteria and it is possible that carbapenem-resistance could increase rapidly."

E. coli is a coliform bacterium of the genus Escherichia that is commonly found in the lower intestines of warm-blooded organisms. Most strains are harmless, but virulent strains can cause serious food poisoning, urinary tract infections, neonatal meningitis, and hemorrhagic colitis.

In January a study by bi-annual medical publication Infectious Disease Special Edition found that 70 percent of 7,730 people in a rural Vietnamese community were carrying colistin-resistant E. coli in their stool samples, Yoshimasa Yamamoto, a professor emeritus at Osaka University, Japan, who conducted the study with his colleagues, said.

The World Health Organization has designated colistin a last-resort antibiotic to treat multidrug-resistant bacteria. While not commonly used for humans, it is frequently given to livestock and poultry.

The WHO has listed Vietnam among the countries with the highest rate of antibiotic-resistant infections. This conclusion was also reached by IMS Health, a U.S.-based healthcare data company, in a 2015 report on global antibiotics usage.

The rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in Vietnam has been attributed to the country’s increased antibiotics sale in recent years. Indiscriminate and unnecessary prescription and use of antibiotics are partly to blame, experts said at a health conference in Hanoi last year.

Phuong said part of the reason is the habit of buying medicines at drugstores without prescriptions and even doctors sometimes letting patients take too many antibiotics.

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