Extended-spectrum ß-lactamase-producing bacteria come from a strain of E. coli and are resistant to several types of antibiotics, severely limiting treatment options. The increase in illnesses and deaths linked to medication-resistant bacteria has been well-documented by researchers and has received extensive public attention in recent years. Now, UCLA-led research shows how these bacteria are making it more difficult to treat a common but severe kidney infection (pyelonephritis). Pyelonephritis — infection of the kidney usually caused by E. coli bacteria and which can start as a urinary tract infection — causes fever, back pain, and vomiting. About half of people infected require hospitalization. If not treated with effective antibiotics, the infection can cause sepsis and death. In a UCLA-led study based on data from ten large hospital emergency departments around the United States, almost 12 percent of people diagnosed with pyelonephritis had infections resistant to the standard class of antibiotic used in treatment — i.e., fluoroquinolone (e.g., Cipro and its generic version ciprofloxacin are commonly used medications in this class.) That’s up from 4 percent in a similar study conducted a decade ago. In some cities, and among some people with certain risk factors — such as international travel or recent hospitalization or treatment with an antibiotic — fluoroquinolone resistance rates exceeded 20 percent. The new study — published in the September 2016 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases — also documents the emergence of infections caused by a specific strain of E. coli that is resistant to additional types of antibiotics, severely limiting treatment options.
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