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New Strain of Antibiotic-Resistant E. Coli Discovered in Vietnam

Medical researchers have discovered in Vietnam a strain of Escherichia coli (E. coli) that's resistant to carbapenem, a class of highly effective antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections and is the final defense again E. coli.

In a recent article. VnExpress quoted Dr. Doan Mai Phuong, former head of the Microbiology Department of Hanoi's Bach Mai Hospital, who expressed concerns about the spread carbapenem-resistant strain: "If not controlled, the antibiotic resistance will spread among bacteria and it is possible that carbapenem-resistance could increase rapidly."

E. coli is a diverse family of bacteria that live in the environment and the intestines of human and animals. Most E. coli strains are harmless, although there are strains that can make us severely sick. Doctors are worried that, with rampant antibiotic abuse, some strains can develop a resistance to even the most sophisticated cure, such as carbapenem.

Dr. Phuong attributed the carbapenem resistance discovered in E. coli to excessive consumption of antibiotics by many Vietnamese patients. Earlier on, the American Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics, and Policy found that Vietnam had 11,480 defined daily doses of antibiotics per 1,000 individuals in 2015. A 2018 study by Takahiro Yamaguchi et al. reported that colistin-resistant strains of E. coli were discovered from meat and seafood samples in Ho Chi Minh City. Colistin is also a last-resort antibiotic used to combat multidrug-resistant bacteria.

During December of the same year, a study by Yoshimasa Yamamoto et al. discovered that approximately 70% of residents in anonymous rural communities in Vietnam had colistin-resistant strains of E. coli in their stool samples.

According to World Health Organization's Global Database for Antimicrobial Resistance Country Self Assessment data 2017-2018, antibiotic resistance awareness campaign in Vietnam is still limited and small-scale, targeting some, but not all, relevant stakeholders (e.g. general public, doctors, pharmacists, nurses, medicine sellers). Consequently, antibiotics were prescribed and sold to the people without moderation. 

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