October 16, 2011
Researchers from an international team led by Monash University have uncovered how a common hospital bacterium becomes a deadly superbug that kills large numbers of hospital patients worldwide plus an estimated $3.2 billion each year in health care costs in the US alone.
They have linked a naturally occurring mutation in the microorganism Clostridium difficile to severe and debilitating diarrhoea in hospital patients undergoing antibiotic therapy. These antibiotics destroy the ‘good’ bacteria in the gut, which allows this ‘bad’ bacterium to colonise the colon, where it causes bowel infections that are difficult to treat.
“The mutation wipes out the built in disease regulator producing hypervirulent strains of C. difficile that are resistant to antibiotics and which have been found to circulate in Canada, the US, UK, Europe and Australia,” Dr Lyras says.
Now that the researchers have a better understand of how these strains can attack they can better find ways to prevent and control them.
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