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Last-resort antibiotics fail; 10 die in 22 months in AIIMS, Delhi

Research conducted by a group of scientists from AIIMS,CMC Vellore and US’ Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that of the 22 patients, 10 (45%) died within a fortnight of admission.

New Delhi: Between 2016 and October 2017, AIIMS Trauma Center had 22 patients who didn’t even respond to colistin, a last-resort antibiotic. The patients were suffering from multi-drug resistant infection caused by gram-negative bacteria K Pneumoniae.

Research conducted by a group of scientists from AIIMS,CMC Vellore and US’ Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that of the 22 patients, 10 (45%) died within a fortnight of admission. The rest survived but required 23 days of admission and administration of a combination of high-end drugs.Colistin, discovered in 1959, was one of the first antibiotics with significant activity against gram-negative bacteria. But it caused side effects such as damage to the kidneys due to which the drug was discontinued from regular  usage as safer antibiotics came up. However, it had to be reintroduced recently to treat infections that couldn’t be treated with any of the new antibiotics, or example carbepenems.


In the AIIMS study, researchers found that all 22 patients were also resistant to other high-end drugs, including carbepenems, extended spectrum cephalosporins, and penicillin/B-lactamase. “Action is needed from a broad range of stakeholders including clinicians, microbiologists and public health officials, to limit the spread of this critically-important multi-drug resistant organism,” the scientists warned in the research, published in ‘Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology’.

They said widespread use of antibiotics in humans and animals, insufficient infection control in healthcare facilities and limited availability of safe water and sanitation facilities are the possible causes of emerging pattern.

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) has been identified as one of the 10 threats to global health in 2019 by World Health Organisation. WHO has warned that if action is not taken to prevent overuse of all forms of antibiotics, we could go back to the time when it was hard to treat infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhea and salmonellosis.
While the Indian government has taken steps to create awareness about the misuse of antibiotics, self-medication of the drug is rampant  in the country. Doctors, too, overprescribe them. For example, antibiotic is often prescribed to patients suffering from seasonal cough and cold that are mostly caused by virus

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