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Drug-resistant superbug enters U.S.

Uncommon helmet headed to auction

A helmet that is considered an extraordinary example of Roman metalwork is scheduled to be auctioned next month by Christie's in London. The helmet, which dates from the late first century, was discovered in a field in northwestern England by a treasure-hunter with a metal detector. Christie's said Monday that the helmet could fetch $242,000 to $363,000 when auctioned Oct. 7.

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Associated Press

Drug-resistant superbug enters U.S.

Hand washing

85 percent of public restroom users washing their hands in checks in Atlanta, Chicago, New York and San Francisco last month

77 percent who did so in 2007

23 percent of men who failed to wash last month

7 percent of women who failed to do so

Source: American Society for Microbiology

An infectious-disease nightmare is unfolding: Bacteria that have been made resistant to nearly all antibiotics by an alarming new gene have sickened people in California, Massachusetts and Illinois and are popping up all over the world, health officials reported Monday at an American Society for Microbiology conference in Boston.

The U.S. cases and two in Canada all involve people who had recently received medical care in India, where the problem is widespread.

A British medical journal revealed the risk last month in an article describing dozens of cases in Britain in people who had gone to India for medical procedures.

How many deaths the gene may have caused is unknown; there is no central tracking of such cases. So far, the gene has mostly been found in bacteria that cause gut or urinary infections.

Scientists have long feared this — a very adaptable gene that hitches onto many types of common germs and confers broad drug resistance, creating dangerous "superbugs."

"It's a great concern," because drug resistance has been rising and few new antibiotics are in development, said Dr. M. Lindsay Grayson, director of infectious diseases at the University of Melbourne in Australia. "It's just a matter of time" until the gene spreads more widely person to person, he said.

Associated Press

fast facts

What to do?

Don't add to the problem, experts say. Don't pressure doctors for antibiotics if they say they aren't needed, use those you are given properly and try to avoid infections by washing your hands.

Drug-resistant superbug enters U.S.

09/13/10 [Last modified: Monday, September 13, 2010 10:44pm]
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