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New Clues to Stubborn Urinary Tract Infections

Hong Kong researchers have found that antibiotic resistance to E. coli is found in both humans and animals, signifying that these resistant bacteria may be transmitted from animals to humans.

The research is published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology.

The study shows the genes that cause bacteria to be resistant to a common antibiotic can be transferred between people and animals, says study researcher Pak-Leung Ho, MD, a researcher at the Carol Yu Centre for Infection at the University of Hong Kong.

The gene, aacC2, was initially sequenced around the mid-1980s, Ho tells WebMD. ''Initially, we found that these genes were common among urine isolates from outpatients with urinary tract infections," he tells WebMD. The gene encodes resistance to gentamicin, an antibiotic.

Next, says Ho, his research team decided to collect bacterial strains from people and animals ''to address the question that these genes could have come from food animals."

The researchers gathered 249 samples of E. coli, which is responsible for up to 95% of urinary tract infections in people, Ho says.

Of these, 89 were found to be gentamicin-sensitive (60 from people, 29 from animals) and 160 gentamicin-resistant (107 from people, 53 from animals).
 
 

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