In the past number of years, it seems that we have become complacent to expecting the new global threat to arise. Just recently we all coped with how to deal with the effects of the Zika virus. Now, a new multi-drug resistant infection that can cause life- threatening illness in people with cystic fibrosis has spread globally. Mycobacterium abscessus is a species of mycobacteria and can cause severe pneumonia leading to accelerate inflammatory damage to the lungs. It’s extremely difficult to treat with fewer than one in three cases being treated successfully.
Researchers are not sure what delivery mechanism is being utilized by the pathogen to spread globally, but a study lead by the University of Cambridge and Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute suggest that conventional cleaning will not be sufficient to eliminate the pathogen. M. abscessus can transmit through patient to patient contact, contact with contaminated surfaces, and through the air.
Doctors that are responsible for treating this infection are worried because M. abscessus can cause very serious infections that are extremely challenging to treat, requiring a combination of treatments with multiple antibiotics for 18 months or longer. Professor Andres Floto says “The bug initially seems to have entered the patient population from the environment, but we think it has recently evolved to become capable of jumping from patient to patient, getting more virulent as it does so.” To learn more about this study read more here.