Yet another highly resistant superbug has been identified, this time in the United Kingdom. Although not as lethal or infectious as the enterohaemorrhagic E. coli bacteria currently threatening much of Europe, this new strain of MRSA (meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) can still cause severe symptoms and even death, and poses a particular threat to injured or elderly patients, making hospitals a favourite target.
This is the second superbug to be identified in a matter of weeks. Additionally, late last year, the gene NDM-1 was identified in the New Delhi water supply. The gene itself is not a superbug, but transforms other bacteria into highly resistant strains, making it potentially even more dangerous than the bugs. Fortunately for the public, this latest superbug is not transmitted by raw vegetables like EHEC. It is passed on through contact with cattle, including cows’ milk. However, the pasteurization process kills all MRSA bacteria, rendering it safe for consumption.
All the same, this sudden proliferation of superbugs – one in Asia, one in Europe and one in UK – is enough to make the more cautious among us eat only out of cans for the next decade or so.