Researchers discover rare superbug gene at US pig farm

Researchers discover rare superbug gene at US pig farm

Pointing to a troubling new path for the potential spreading of drug-resistant pathogens, researchers have discovered a rare superbug gene at an American pig farm.

Researches from the Ohio State University (OSU) recovered eighteen isolates of multiple Enterobacteriaceae species harboring the beta-lactamase gene IMP-27, which is resistant to carbapenem antibiotics, at an industrial U.S. swine operation. The gene is said to be highly mobile piece of DNA that can spread the human population through raw meat.

However, the researchers assured that the drug-resistant gene was found at the pig farm, and not in the animals. Still, the discovery has raised concerns about the possibility of food-borne transmission of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), which could expose people to deadly pathogens.

Gail Hansen, a consultant on public health, said, "The good news is that CRE are unlikely to have entered the US food supply from pork, at least so far. The bad news is that CRE was found at all on a swine facility . The presence of the gene means it must be taken seriously."

It may be noted here that carbapenems are the last line of defense against deadly drug-resistant bacteria. While CRE have been reported in European and Asian livestock, it is the first time it has been discovered in United States. It is surprising in part because the use of carbapenem antibiotics in food animals is illegal in the country.

The discovery of the drug-resistant superbug gene was reported in the latest edition of the Antimicrobial Agents & Chemotherapy.

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