ATHENS, Ga. (WTVO) — Scientists from the University of Georgia say a gene found in Georgia sewer water could be a “global public health threat.”
According to Fox5 Atlanta, the gene causes bacteria to be resistant to one of the world’s most important antibiotics.
Researchers found the MCR-gene while testing sewage water in an urban environment in Georgia, which causes resistance to colistin.
The World Health Organization declared antimicrobial resistance “one of the top 10 global public health threats facing humanity” in 2020.
Officials are concerned because the gene was found in bacteria called Morganella morganii, which is the first time MCR has been discovered in this specific bacteria and could be more widespread than currently believed.
Officials warn that there are possibly no medications that can treat infections caused by strains of colistin-resistant bacteria.
“If we don’t tackle it right now, we are jeopardizing human and animal medicine as we know it and that can have huge repercussions on health and the economy,” assistant professor of the University of Georgia Issmat Kassem told the university. “It’s a dangerous problem that requires attention from multiple sectors for us to be able to tackle it properly.”