Drug Resistant Staph
Causing Big Fears
British Experts Echo Japanese Discovery
From Stig Agermose
Copyright ©1997
Copyright ©1997 Reuters
LONDON (Rueters) - Medical experts called Friday for special precautions after Japanese doctors identified new strains of a superbug with some resistance to the most potent antibiotic.
Dr. Keiichi Hiramatsu and colleagues at Jutendo University in Tokyo found a strain of the common infection staphylococcus aureus earlier this year -- known by its initials as VRSA -- that did not respond to vancomycin, the last line of defense against infection.
In their latest research, reported in The Lancet medical journal, they uncovered more strains of the organism that showed variable resistance to the drug.
"This is a very big warning," Dr. Soad Tabaqchali, a microbiologist at St. Bartholomew's & Royal London School of Medicine and Dentistry, told Reuters.
"If this organism spreads, we may find some patients for whom the only antibiotics available are ineffective."
Strains of the so-called MRSA bacteria that are resistant to the antibiotic methicillin have been found around the world since the late 1970s, but doctors have always had another weapon -- vancomycin.
The discovery of the new strains of VRSA means the new superbug might eventually be untreatable.
Hiramatsu and his team said there is "a need for special precaution to limit the spread of VRSA strains," a plea repeated by Tabaqchali.
"More has to be done regarding detection, infection control and antibiotic policies," she said. "We need to reduce usage of these very important antibiotics."
Copyright ©1997

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