A multi-drug resistant infection that can become life-threatening to people suffering from serious lung affections such as cystic fibrosis has spread worldwide, according to a new research published Nov. 11 in the journal Science. The infection can spread from person to person, which makes it all the more dangerous.
The research was conducted by a team from the University of Cambridge and Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, and it highlights that undergoing the traditional standard procedures used for cleaning will prove to be insufficient when it comes to getting rid of the pathogen, as it can also be transmitted through air.
Drug-Resistant, Easily Spreadable Bacteria
The multi-drug resistant bacteria, called Mycobacterium abscessus, has become a compelling worldwide threat, as it has been proven to cause pneumonia in people who suffer from CF or other lung diseases. The pneumonia could lead to life-threatening inflammatory damage at the levels of the lungs, which could make an organ transplant impossible.
Up until the publication of this study, it was believed that the environment was the only way of transmitting the bacteria from one patient to another. Patient-to-patient transmission was never considered to be a way of spreading the infection's effects on the population.
Preventing A Pandemic
The team that conducted the study was previously involved in connected research, trying to prove the idea that the bacteria could also be transmitted by patient-to-patient means. However, the conclusions of that research were uncertain.
As part of the methodology used in the research, the genomes of more than 1,000 isolates of mycobacteria were taken from 517 subjects all over Europe, United States and Australia. This allowed the researchers to formulate a conclusion of a more general nature, proving that most of the CF patients were suffering from diseases as a result of the patient-to-patient transmissible bacteria.
Additionally, the research also highlights that it is entirely possible for the bacteria to be transmitted inside hospitals, where patients with lung affections are being treated, through the means of air and contaminated surfaces.
However, the researchers are optimistic when it comes to the possibility of facing a pandemic. They believe that discovering the means through which the bacteria is transmitted will help in taking the necessary measures in order to avoid such occurrences.