Tens of thousands of migrants pouring into Europe are bringing infections that will soon be untreatable.

Tens of thousands of migrants pouring into Europe are bringing infections that will soon be untreatable.

Only a month after Chinese scientists reported finding a gene conveying resistance to a key antibiotic used by public-health officials as a last-resort drug against bacterial infections, the same mutation has been identified in Denmark.

Colistin, the most common polymyxin-class antibiotic, is used to treat bacterial infections that resist all other available antibiotics, reported New Scientist. The newly discovered resistant MCR-1 gene means bacteria that cause intestinal, urinary and blood infections in humans can now become “pan resistant” against all current antibiotics. The MCR-1 gene easily transfers among bacteria, and November’s concerns that it could soon go global have already been realized.

Danish researchers, analyzing their own database of bacterial DNA collected from people, animals and food, found one person with a blood infection carrying the same MCR-1 gene. MCR-1 was also found in five poultry samples from meat imported from Germany between 2012 and 2014. Additionally, Danish scientists reported the MCR-1 bacteria also carried genes making them resistant to penicillin and cephalosporins, two other widely used antibiotics.

“History shows that these mobile resistance genes can spread around the world quickly, silently riding in people, animals and food,” said Dr. Lance Price, head of George Washington University’s Antibiotic Resistance Action Center.

“We must act swiftly to contain the spread of colistin-resistant bacteria, or we will face increasing numbers of untreatable infections,” Price said.

The MCR-1 gene is believed to have arisen from antibiotic overuse in the livestock and poultry industries, particularly in China where colistin dosing is widespread and unregulated. According to New Scientist, 12,000 tons of colistin are fed to livestock every year, primarily to speed up growth and prevent infections in crowded pens and feedlots where bacteria can spread quickly.

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The discovery in Denmark, with evidence of MCR-1 dating back to 2012 in Germany, is made worse by the recent massive influx of migrants from the Mideast.

Dr. Jan-Thorsten Gräsner, director of Germany’s Institute for Rescue and Emergency Medicine, said approximately five percent of the recent influx of asylum seekers – or about 75,000 newcomers – are bringing resistant germs with them, reported the Gatestone Institute.

German public-health officials are reporting the reappearance of diseases long absent for years.

Dr. Michael Melter, chief physician at University Hospital Regensburg, told Die Welt, “Some of the ailments I have not seen for 20 or 25 years,” he said, “and many of my younger colleagues have actually never seen them.”

Officials are watching for outbreaks of both bacterial and viral diseases, including Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever, diphtheria, Ebola, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, malaria, measles, meningitis, mumps, polio, scabies, tetanus, tuberculosis, typhus and whooping cough.

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Marc Schreiner, director of international relations for the German Hospital Federation, echoed Melter: “In the clinics, it is becoming increasingly common to see patients with diseases that were considered to have been eradicated in Germany, such as scabies. These diseases must be reliably diagnosed, which is a challenge.”

In cases of highly contagious diseases, including tuberculosis, expensive quarantines are required. That process is made more difficult now by cultural differences that have seen migrants hostile and uncooperative with medical personnel and by the the latest emergence of antibiotic resistance.

The MCR-1 gene has not yet been found in North America, but researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are now analyzing their databases to see if it has gone previously undetected. Colistin is not widely used in North American livestock operations, but as the Denmark experience demonstrates, that does not mean MCR-1 has not found its way here.

If resistance becomes widespread and bacterial infections cannot be treated with antibiotics, common infections and injuries could become fatal and risks for simple surgeries would increase, all made worse by a population of migrants introducing diseases that can no longer be treated.

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