Study: Drug-resistant E. coli bacteria rises despite drop in medication use

New research conducted by experts from the University of Washington School of Medicine, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, and Seattle Children’s Hospital highlights the ongoing challenge of ciprofloxacin-resistant E. coli. 

Ciprofloxacin is a medicine that fights against certain types of infections caused by bacteria. It stops these bacteria from growing and spreading, helping your body get rid of the infection. It's used to treat various infections like urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, and skin infections. You can take it as a pill or as a liquid, depending on your doctor's instructions.

Despite a nearly threefold reduction in ciprofloxacin prescriptions between 2015 and 2021, the study found that these drug-resistant bacteria continue to thrive.

The study, published in Communications Medicine, focused on Seattle women over 50 who hadn't taken antibiotics for a year. Surprisingly, about 20% had ciprofloxacin-resistant E. coli in their guts.

This highlights the resilience of drug-resistant E. coli, which tends to establish long-term residence in gut microbiomes once it emerges. This bacteria is among many becoming resistant to multiple antibiotics.

Pathogenic E. coli can lead to urinary tract infections, particularly affecting women. Even with newer antibiotics like third-generation cephalosporins, treating these infections remains a challenge.

Dr. Evgeni V. Sokurenko, lead researcher and microbiology professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, suggests that reducing antibiotic use may not effectively combat resistance.

The study identified an increase in virulent ST1193 and ST131-H30 strains, known contributors to drug-resistant urinary tract infections.

This research underscores the urgency to find better strategies to control drug-resistant E. coli in the gut, including probiotics and bacteriophages. Further research on antibiotic-resistant gut E. coli is crucial to combat these infections.