A new strain of typhoid has emerged and healthcare workers everywhere have had trouble finding an antibiotic that it isn’t resistant to. A recent study dubbed it the “superbug” strain and designated it to the family H58.
74 scientist in roughly two dozen countries across the planet have teamed up to research the typhoid “superbug” that has spread worldwide in hope of finding a way to slow it down and stop it from claiming more lives. They found that it originated in South Asia, about 25 or 30 years ago.
For those not in the know, typhoid is a bacterial infection caused by a bacteria called Salmonella Typhi and contracted when eating or drinking contaminated goods. The symptoms include induces high fever, weakness, abdominal pain, headaches, nausea and constipation. Victims are likely to experience confusion and notice rose colored spots on their chest once the infection has set in.
The death rate associated with typhoid is about 20 percent.
H58 is a particularly ugly stain that healthcare workers have described as “previously under-appreciated and an ongoing epidemic”. It’s “displacing other typhoid strains that have been established over decades and centuries throughout the typhoid endemic world, completely transforming the genetic architecture of the disease”.
Gordon Dougan, senior study author and professor at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Britain, gave a statement saying that H58 is a very good example of the increasing number of drug resistant pathogens that have plagued the Earth as of late.
Vanessa Wong, study author and microbiologist at the University of Cambridge, stressed that H58 is resistant to several of the first-line antibiotics that are normally used to treat the disease and that the strain is continuing evolve and acquire new immunity to newer drugs.
Vaccines are available for the disease, however due to their so called “limited cost-effectiveness” they are generally not used in developing countries. This is an unpleasant reality, as the poorer countries such as Asia and Africa are exactly the ones threatened by H58 (and typhoid in general) more than the rest.
Dr. Wanda Filer, president-elect of the American Academy of Family Physicians, shared that most strains of typhoid can be treated with common antibiotics and that they have been used as a preventive measure as well. It’s precisely because of this that there is a rise in antibiotic-resistant pathogens.
She does however brings good news for those in developed countries, informing that the vaccine is 50 percent to 80 percent effective against all strains of typhoid once administered, even against the new antibiotic-resistant ones. She recommends that you get vaccinated if you’re traveling to parts of the world where there’s an outbreak.
Wong thought it important to point out that 30 million people are affected by typhoid every year, and that global studies such as this one are critical to addressing the increasing number of multi-drug resistant typhoid strains.
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