Saturday, May 28, 2016

Genomic study of epidemic dysentery reveals how Europe exported a scourge worldwide

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/wtsi-gso031816.php

PUBLIC RELEASE: 21-MAR-2016
Genomic study of epidemic dysentery reveals how Europe exported a scourge worldwide
Development of Shigella dysenteriae resistance to antibiotics charted
WELLCOME TRUST SANGER INSTITUTE

The largest genetic study on the bacterium responsible for epidemic dysentery has revealed that the Shigella dysenteriae pathogen, which remains a real scourge in Africa and Asia, probably originated in Europe.

This research, published in the journal Nature Microbiology, also charts the development of the pathogen's resistance to antibiotics.

Scientists from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Institut Pasteur in Paris and international collaborators have uncovered hitherto unknown links between the various outbreaks that have occurred through history. One of the worst scourges to afflict humans throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, dysentery was transmitted from one continent to another via migratory movements and military operations.

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Since the first bacteria were isolated well before the use of antibiotics, study of the collection has revealed that the first antibiotic resistance appeared in Asia and America in the mid-1960s. The bacterium then acquired resistance genes against most classes of antibiotics - fewer than 1 per cent of bacterial strains have remained susceptible to antibiotics since the 1990s. Scientists consider it inevitable and a cause for concern that dysentery bacteria will acquire resistance to the last-resort antibiotic classes.

Dr Fran├žois-Xavier Weill, Research Director at the Enteric Bacterial Pathogens Unit, Institut Pasteur, said: "This bacterium is still in circulation, and could be responsible for future epidemics if conditions should prove favorable - such as a large gathering of people without access to drinking water or treatment of human waste. This study highlights the need for an effective vaccine, which will be crucial for controlling this disease in the future in view of the reduced efficacy of antibiotics."

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