April 21, 2024

Emergence of Colistin-Resistant Bacteria in Mothers and Newborns in Nigeria

A recent study conducted by researchers from the Ineos Oxford Institute for Antimicrobial Research (IOI) and Cardiff University has revealed the presence of bacteria resistant to colistin in mothers and newborn babies in Nigeria. Despite limited clinical use of colistin in the country at the time, the study found evidence of colistin resistance in these vulnerable populations, highlighting a concerning trend in antimicrobial resistance.

The research, published in Nature Communications, involved the screening of nearly 5,000 samples from mothers and newborns across three hospitals in Nigeria. The samples were analyzed for the presence of mobile colistin resistance (mcr) genes, which are responsible for conferring bacterial resistance to colistin, a crucial last-resort antibiotic used to treat multidrug-resistant infections in humans.

The findings of the study are particularly worrisome as they suggest that the use of colistin in agriculture, rather than in clinical settings, may have contributed to the maintenance of colistin resistance in the local community. Dr. Edward Portal, a co-author of the study, emphasized the significance of the discovery of diverse mcr genes in newborns and mothers, indicating a potential link to agricultural use of colistin.

The emergence of colistin resistance poses a significant public health concern, especially in regions where alternative treatment options for multidrug-resistant infections are limited. It is essential to conduct targeted surveillance of colistin resistance to better understand how resistant bacteria are being acquired, particularly in vulnerable populations such as newborns.

Dr. Kenneth C. Iregbu, co-author of the paper, highlighted the importance of investigating the route and mechanism of acquisition of colistin-resistant genes in newborns, underscoring the need for heightened awareness and preventive measures to curb the spread of antimicrobial resistance.

As the usage of colistin continues to increase in medical and agricultural settings across Africa in response to rising rates of multidrug-resistant infections, the researchers caution that this trend may accelerate the selection of resistant bacterial strains, further exacerbating colistin resistance in Nigeria and beyond. Vigilant surveillance and collaborative efforts are crucial in addressing the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance and safeguarding the health of vulnerable populations, especially infants and children.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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