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Extremely antibiotic resistant superbugs spreading in hospitals across Europe

Published on 30/07/19 at 10:46am

Antibiotic resistant superbugs are spreading in hospitals in Europe, according to a study published in Nature Microbiology.

The research shows that antibiotic-resistant strains of the bacteria Klebsiella pneumoniae are spreading through hospitals in Europe. Worryingly, the drug resistant bacteria are resistant to carbapenem antibiotics, the last line of defence in the antimicrobial arsenal. The bacteria are therefore regarded as extremely drug resistant (XDR).

It is estimated that the carbapenem-resistant K. pneumoniaebacteria caused 341 deaths in 2007. This figure increased six-fold to 2,094 by 2015. The increase relates directly to the fact that the bacteria is resistant to carbapenems.  

The researchers also found that the propensity for Klebsiella pneumoniae to spread was correlated with its resistance to drugs. In conducting their research the team looked at more than 1700 samples from 244 hospitals in 32 European countries.

Professor Hajo Grundmann, co-lead author and Head of the Institute for Infection Prevention and Hospital Hygiene at the Medical Centre, University of Freiburg, commented: “We are optimistic that with good hospital hygiene, which includes early identification and isolation of patients carrying these bacteria, we can not only delay the spread of these pathogens, but also successfully control them.”

“This research emphasises the importance of infection control and ongoing genomic surveillance of antibiotic-resistant bacteria to ensure we detect new resistant strains early and act to combat the spread of antibiotic resistance.”

Professor David Aanensen, co-lead author and Director of the Centre for Genomic Pathogen Surveillance, added: “Genomic surveillance will be key to tackling the new breeds of antibiotic-resistant pathogen strains that this study has identified. Currently, new strains are evolving almost as fast as we can sequence them. The goal to establish a robust network of genome sequencing hubs will allow healthcare systems to much more quickly track the spread of these bacteria and how they’re evolving.”

Louis Goss

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