In a frighteningly short time, an antibiotic resistant gene, MCR-1, has spread around the world.
Investigations have revealed that it originated in the antibiotics inundated world of agriculture:
The mcr-1 gene, which helps bacteria resist colistin – one of the few remaining antibiotic drugs of last resort that still work – has now reached hospitals all across the world.
And thanks to new research, we now have more evidence of where it came from – pig farms in China.
While experts had previously thought the gene developed on Chinese pig farms, due to their extensive use of colistin on the animals, the latest study offers more evidence to back this idea up.
It pinpoints the start of the spread to sometime in 2005.
The speed at which mcr-1 spread globally is indeed shocking,” says lead researcher Francois Balloux, from University College London (UCL) in the UK.
By sequencing the genomes of 110 bacterial strains and comparing them to existing genomic data, the team identified a large dataset of 457 mcr-1 positive genome sequences, taken from humans and farm animals spread across five continents.
That enabled them to show exactly where mcr-1 had emerged from, and how it spread globally – attaching itself to various bacterial pathogens by “hitchhiking” on different mobile genetic elements.
The supporters of antibiotic use on livestock have always said that no one ever showed that antibiotic resistance has originated from their use on live stock.
Not any more.
This needs to be banned world wide.