Alarming Gene MCR-1 Found in China

2019 ias preliminary exam test series

A new gene that makes bacteria highly resistant to a last-resort class of antibiotics has been found in people and pigs in China.

The discovery was described as “alarming” by scientists, who called for urgent restrictions on the use of polymyxins – a class of antibiotics that includes the drug colistin and is widely used in livestock farming.

Researchers found the gene, called mcr-1, on plasmids – mobile DNA that can be easily copied and transferred between different bacteria.

China is one of the world’s largest users and producers of colistin for agriculture and veterinary use.

The team already has evidence of the gene being transferred between common bacteria such as E.coli, which causes urinary tract and many other types of infection, and Klesbsiella pneumoniae, which causes pneumonia and other infections.

The discovery of the spreading mcr-1 resistance gene echoes news from 2010 of another so-called “superbug” gene, NDM-1, which emerged in India and rapidly spread around the world.

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