LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced Tuesday that the first reported case of the “superbug” in California has been found in a county resident.
That person might have contracted the antibiotic-resistant strain of E. coli while traveling abroad, and “there is no evidence that the organism has spread within the local healthcare community,” according to the county health department’s press release.
The bacteria carries the mcr-1 gene, which is resistant to the antibiotic colistin, one of a few antibiotics that are considered a last resort in treating the highly-resistant bacteria, investigators said.
Bacteria with the mcr-1 gene were first identified in a Pennsylvania woman in April 2016. Since then, the gene has been isolated from people in five more states and from animals in two states, health officials said.
The county health department said the mcr-1 gene is a cause for concern because it is carried on a piece of DNA that can be transmitted between bacteria, spreading resistance to more dangerous bacteria.
In particular, colistin is used to treat a family of bacteria known as CRE, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified as one of the most urgent drug-resistant threats in the United States.
CRE “superbugs” have been found resistant to a host of antibiotic options, leaving colistin as of the few options for treatment of this often fatal bacteria.
Healthy people do not typically get CRE infections, which usually occur in patients in hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities.
Earlier this month, county health officials mandated that all acute care hospitals and skilled nursing facilities report on CRE cases.