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Infections in the community involving antibiotic-resistant forms of the E coli bacteria could become more common in the “near future”, it has been claimed.
The authors of a new study, published in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, said the the situation could mirror the recent growth in cases of community-acquired MRSA (C-MRSA), where healthy people become infected with the superbug without actually having been in hospital.
And they have called for extra funding to track the worldwide spread of resistant forms of E coli in hospitals and the community.
They studied a host of surveys going back to 2000, from countries including the UK, which indicated that there is a trend of E coli developing resistance to antibodies.
The researchers, who are from the University of Calgary in Canada, said: “These bacteria have become widely prevalent in the community setting in certain areas of the world and they are most likely being imported into the hospital setting.”
Escherichia coli, or E coli, is a common bacteria found in the human gut which is normally harmless, but some strains can cause diseases in humans.
Responding to the report, the Health Protection Agency said: “Like MRSA this isn’t something we can eradicate completely, but we can offer advice and guidance to try and raise awareness and minimise the problem.
“We agree with the authors that antibiotic resistance is an important issue affecting public health.”
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