The patient is well now, but the case raises the specter of superbugs that could cause untreatable infections, because the bacteria can easily transmit their resistance to other germs that are already resistant to additional antibiotics.
The resistance can spread because it arises from loose genetic material that bacteria typically share with one another.
“Think of a puzzle,” said Dr. Beth Bell, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “You need lots of different pieces to get a result that is resistant to everything. This is the last piece of that puzzle, unfortunately, in the United States. We have that genetic element that would allow for bacteria that are resistant to every antibiotic.”
“This is huge,” said Dr. Lance Price, a researcher at George Washington University. “We are one step away from CRE strains that cannot be treated with antibiotics. We now have all the pieces in place for it to be untreatable.”
For the full New York Times story, click here.