For the first time, doctors have diagnosed a patient in the USA with a superbug resistant to the so-called antibiotic of last resort, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.
Colistin is the antibiotic of last resort for particularly unsafe types of superbugs, including a family of bacteria known as CRE, which health officials have dubbed "nightmare bacteria". Colistin is known as the last antibiotic line of defense against "nightmare bacteria".
Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with other kinds of bacteria that can't be beat with most antibiotics, and at least 23,000 people die each year as a result of those infections, according to the CDC.
The researchers warned: "The recent discovery of a plasmid-borne colistin resistance gene, heralds the emergence of truly pan-drug resistant bacteria". Researchers said that the bacteria may have developed resistance to colistin because the pigs in China are always fed with the antibiotic.
However, tests over the last week confirmed the E coli was carrying a gene for resistance against the drug colistin.
"It is the end of the road for antibiotics unless we act urgently".
Medical professionals have long warned that the evolution of antibiotic-resistant strains could lead to an unparalleled medical crisis, with minor infections or simple surgeries becoming fatal.
"The discovery of this gene in the U.S. is equally concerning, and continued surveillance to identify reservoirs of this gene within the military health care community and beyond is critical to prevent its spread".
Dr. Paul Hoskisson, senior lecturer at the University of Strathclyde, said: "While this study is significant in showing that the mcr-1 gene is truly global, this development is not unexpected".
'Because the patient has no reported travel history, you can predict with certainty that mcr-1 is established in the United States of America'.
The findings were published online Thursday in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.
The deadly strain was later discovered in Europe and elsewhere.