Warning over rise of another Victorian disease as bacteria become ‘immune to drugs’

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BRITS have been warned that cases of another Victorian illness could be on the rise.

Experts say that bacteria which causes typhoid is becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics.

Without prompt treatment, typhoid can cause serious complications and can be fatal

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Without prompt treatment, typhoid can cause serious complications and can be fatalCredit: Getty – Contributor

It comes after an outbreak of tuberculosis (TB) was detected in Wales after one person sadly died from the illness.

Prior to that it was found that cases of conditions such as scarlet fever and measles are at a five-year high.

Now a new study has suggested that the largest type of typhoid Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi (S. Typhi) has spread.

The illness originates in South Asia, but medics in Stanford said it has spread to other countries nearly 200 times since 1990.

In general, antibiotic resistance has declined in South Asia.

Experts said strains resistant to macrolides and quinolones – two of the most important antibiotics for human health – have risen sharply and spread to other countries.

Dr Jason Andrews, from Stanford University and the lead author of the paper said this was a ’cause for concern’.

“It highlights the need to urgently expand prevention measures, particularly in countries at greatest risk.

“At the same time, the fact resistant strains of S. Typhi have spread internationally so many times also underscores the need to view typhoid control, and antibiotic resistance more generally, as a global rather than local problem,” Dr Andrews said.

Published in The Lancet Microbe journal, the experts looked at blood samples collected between 2014 and 2019.

These were from 3,489 typhoid strains in people from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan with confirmed cases of typhoid fever.

Medics also added 4,169 samples from 70 countries between 1905 and 2018.

Their analysis found that resistant S. Typhi strains have spread between countries at least 197 times since 1990.

These strains are most common in south Asia and from south Asia to south-east Asia, east and southern Africa.

However, doctors found they had also been reported in the UK, US and Canada.

What is typhoid fever?

Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection that can spread throughout the body, affecting many organs.

Without prompt treatment, it can cause serious complications and can be fatal.

It’s caused by a bacterium called Salmonella typhi, which is related to the bacteria that cause salmonella food poisoning.

Typhoid fever is highly contagious. An infected person can pass the bacteria out of their body in their poo or, less commonly, in their pee.

If someone else eats food or drinks water that’s been contaminated with a small amount of infected poo or urine, they can become infected with the bacteria and develop typhoid fever.

Typhoid fever is most common in parts of the world that have poor sanitation and limited access to clean water.

Worldwide, children are thought to be most at risk of developing typhoid fever because their immune system is still developing.

The main symptoms of typhoid fever are:

  • a high temperature that can reach 39 to 40C
  • headache
  • general aches and pains
  • cough
  • constipation

As the infection progresses, you may lose your appetite, feel sick, and have a tummy ache and diarrhoea. Some people may develop a rash.

If typhoid fever isn’t treated, the symptoms will continue to get worse over the following weeks and the risk of developing potentially fatal complications will increase.

Typhoid fever is uncommon in the UK, with an estimated 500 cases occurring each year.

In most of these cases, the person developed the infection while visiting relatives in Bangladesh, India or Pakistan.

But you’re also at risk of developing the infection if you visit Asia, Africa or South America.

Source: NHS

Mutations which were resistant to quinolones were spread at least 94 times since 1990 – with half being in South Asia.

Experts added that mutations causing resistance to azithromycin – a widely-used antibiotic – have emerged at least seven times in the past 20 years.

Medics said their findings add to evidence of a rapid rise and spread of strains which are resistant to antibiotics crucial to human health.

Pet owners were recently warned to not share their bed with their dogs due to an ‘untreatable superbug’.

The mcr-1 gene and it’s passed from animals to humans through microscopic faecal particles.

It makes bacteria resistant to colistin, a last-resort antibiotic used to treat infections when all else has failed.

The CDC said:  “Bacteria will inevitably find ways of resisting the antibiotics developed by humans.

“This is why it is more important than ever to slow the spread of resistance by following infection control measures for every patient”.

If there is an increase in bacteria that are resistant to all antibiotics it will lead to many untreatable infections and ultimately more deaths.

If infection rates do not slow down it’s predicted there will be 10 million deaths per year by 2050 from drug-resistant infections.

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