Ancient ‘superbug’ makes comeback

By |  May 25, 2017

A strange 450-million-year-old bacteria found in hospitals has evolved into a new and dangerous “superbug,” according to The Huffington Post.

Enterococcus, the ancient bacteria, is strong enough to resist antibiotics and cleaning products, study co-author Ashlee Earl, group leader for the Bacterial Genomics Group at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, said in a news release. The group estimates this is the reason the bacteria has been able to survive for so long.

The “superbug” is found in the human gut, but has caused infections in the blood, urinary tract and other organs.

Scientists estimate Enterococcus originated about 450 million to 500 million years ago, around the time animals migrated from ocean to land, according to the news release published by Massachusetts Eye and Ear, the Harvard-wide Program on Antibiotic Resistance at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

After conducting experiments, scientists found the bacteria prospers in harsh conditions like starvation, disinfectants and dryness. This could potentially be linked to the bacteria’s history of surviving in the feces of the first land animals, where it would need to reproduce in similar conditions.

“Life on land would have selected for the precise traits that now allow pathologic [Enterococcus] to survive desiccation, starvation and disinfection in the modern hospital,” Earl and researchers wrote in their paper, which is published in the scientific journal Cell.

Although researchers and scientists have not found a successful antibiotic, work is being done to halt the bacteria’s 450-million-year winning streak.

This article is tagged with and posted in Crawling the Web

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