December 7, 1996 in Nation/World

‘Superbug’ Thrives On Antibiotics

Compiled From Wire Services
 

Doctors fear they may have encountered a new “superbug” - a bacterium that not only resists antibiotics but thrives on them.

The bacterium infected two post-operative patients at St. George’s Hospital, and when treated with antibiotics quickly adopted them as a vital part of its metabolism, the patients’ doctors wrote in a letter published Friday in the Lancet medical journal.

“Have we at last witnessed the emergence of a true superbug?” the doctors asked.

The bacterium - enterococcus faecium - caused fevers in the two patients, both men in their 60s who underwent surgery this year.

Doctors administered the antibiotic vancomycin, the standard treatment. But within days, the bacterium began showing resistance to the antibiotic - and then it began to thrive.


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