C-Diff and the nature of bacteria

C. diff spread 'fast and easy'
The genetic code of C. difficile mutates rapidly. By comparing the genetic code of batches of C. difficile, researchers can work out how related different batches of C. difficile are. Doing this on a large scale, involving 151 samples from infections in 19 countries, allowed researchers to build up a picture of the spread of the antibiotic resistant strains.

It showed there was an strain called FQR1 which started in the US and spread across the country and to Switzerland and South Korea.

A second strain FQR2 started in Canada before spreading across North America, Europe and Australia. It entered the UK on four separate occasions.
Comment: Star Tribune article today: For human reasons, bacteria are winning Excerpt:
What makes the rapid loss of antibiotics to drug resistance particularly alarming is that we are failing to make new ones. We are emptying our medicine chest of the most important class of medicines we ever had. And the cause can be traced, for the most part, to two profound problems.

The first is economic. Historically, the drug industry thrived on antibiotics. But if an antibiotic is useful against only one type of bacterium, relatively few people need it during its patent life. And if an antibiotic is "broad spectrum," meaning it works on many different types of bacteria, wider use shortens its commercial life because it quickens the pace at which bacteria develop resistance. Moreover, antibiotics are designed to cure an acute disease -- not to palliate a chronic one -- so people need them only for a limited time. Compared with drugs that are used for years to treat widespread conditions like high cholesterol or asthma, antibiotics pale as a corporate investment.

The second challenge stems from the nature of bacteria. Though brainless, they are brainy, enjoying a highly effective collective intelligence. Large numbers of independently mutating bacteria test adaptations to group problems, like how to survive antibiotics. What works -- like modifying the bacterial proteins to which antibiotics would otherwise bind -- wins. As bacteria become more adept at evading antibiotics, it has become much harder to find drugs that can beat them back. Merge these two problems -- scientific and economic -- and the result is a drug-development disaster: The prospects are so discouraging that few companies bother to try anymore
Final comment: I am currently (and hopefully forever) C-Diff free! Image source

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