The BC Centre for Disease Control’s (BCCDC) Public Health Laboratory has confirmed a case of mcr-1 E.coli resistance in an individual who returned to British Columbia from China. The patient was successfully treated and has since been discharged. This is the second human case of mcr-1 resistance detected in Canada.
mcr-1 is a gene recently identified in hospitalized patients in China that makes E. coli and some other species of bacteria resistant to the antibiotic called colistin. Most bacteria that carry the mcr-1 gene can still be treated by other more commonly used antibiotics, but resistance to colistin is a concern because it is often the last resort treatment for multidrug resistant bacteria.
Antibiotic resistance is the ability of bacteria to survive and multiply, even when the person is treated by a given antibiotic. Bacteria that are resistant to all the commonly used antibiotics are sometimes called “superbugs”.
The risk to British Columbians remains very low. mcr-1 is rare in Canada as most cases are likely linked to animals and meats sold in markets in China but it may also be associated to healthcare exposure outside of Canada. Microbiology laboratories in B.C. and across Canada have enhanced their vigilance for detection of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
There is no concern regarding the handling and consumption of meat produced in Canada.
British Columbians are reminded to consult with their physicians to use antibiotics wisely and to prevent infections using proper hand hygiene. Patients with healthcare exposure outside of Canada are encouraged to inform their nurses and doctors when being admitted to a hospital in BC.