An international team of scientists investigating transmission of a deadly drug resistant bacteria that rivals MRSA, has found that whilst the bugs are found in livestock, pets and the wider environment, they are rarely transmitted to humans through this route.
The researchers, led by Professor Ed Feil from the Milner Centre for Evolution at the University of Bath, investigated the prevalence of Klebsiella, a family of bacterial species that lives harmlessly in the intestines, but can be dangerous if it spreads to other parts of the body.
Klebsiella pneumoniae is the most well-known species in this family, which can cause pneumonia, meningitis, urinary tract infections and infections in the bloodstream.
These bacteria are now highly resistant to antibiotics, with some strains even resistant to carbapenems, one of the so-called “last resort” class of antibiotics which is only used when no other antibiotic treatment works.
Klebsiella has overtaken MRSA as a health problem in the UK, with rates steadily increasing. The WHO has recognised the bacteria as a critical priority healthcare associated pathogen.
As well as being found in hospitals, the microbe has also previously been detected in the environment, including livestock and wastewater, but until now it wasn’t clear whether the bacteria were passed between clinical and non-clinical environments.
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