‘Very worrying’ – Alarming discovery of antibiotic resistance in Ukraine

Researchers have discovered an alarming level of antibiotic resistance in bacteria in war-wounded patients in Ukraine. Professor Christian Risbeck highlighted the unprecedented levels of resistance, particularly in… Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria, stressing the need for international assistance to address this serious concern.

A team from Lund University in Sweden collaborated with Ukrainian microbiologists to study bacterial resistance in patients who were injured in the war and treated in hospitals.

Recent results published in The scalpel Infectious diseases showed that many patients had bacteria with significantly higher antibiotic resistance.

“I am very thick-skinned and have witnessed many situations involving patients and bacteria. However, I must admit that I have never encountered bacteria with such resistance as this before,” says Christian Risbeck, professor of clinical bacteriology at Lund University.

There was never any doubt that we could help when Dr. Oleksandr Nazarchuk, a microbiologist at a university in Vinnytsia, Ukraine, contacted us. Ukraine needed help to assess the extent of bacterial resistance to antibiotics among seriously injured patients in hospitals.

In addition to all the human suffering caused by the war in Ukraine, another battle is now being fought – an invisible war against resistant bacteria. This became clear when Christian Riesbeck and his fellow researchers analyzed patient samples from seriously injured patients, many of whom had burns, in Ukraine. Patients became infected while in hospital, primarily due to overcrowded wards and destroyed infrastructure.

Samples were collected from a total of 141 war victims, 133 adults who had been wounded during the war, and eight infants diagnosed with pneumonia. These patients were admitted to three different hospitals in Ukraine, where they received emergency surgeries and intensive care to treat their conditions.

“We observed that many Gram-negative bacteria showed resistance to broad-spectrum antimicrobial agents, including newly developed enzyme-inhibiting antibiotics that are not yet available on the market. Furthermore, approximately ten percent of the samples contained bacteria that showed resistance to The antibiotic of “last resort” is colistin. While we have encountered similar cases in India and China before, nothing compares to the extent of resistance observed in this study. “Up to six percent of all samples contained bacteria resistant to both,” says Christian Riesbeck. “Antibiotic we tested.”

He emphasizes that this clearly highlights the challenges posed by resistant bacteria in times of war. In particular, Christian Riesbeck expressed concern about the resistance shown Klebsiella pneumoniae Bacteria, because they have the potential to cause disease in people with a healthy, well-functioning immune system.

“This makes me very worried. It is rare for us to encounter Klebsiella With high levels of resistance, it was not what we expected. While isolated cases have been documented in China, the scale of this situation exceeds anything we have seen before. While many countries are providing aid and military resources to Ukraine, it is crucial to help it address this ongoing situation. “There is a clear risk of the spread of more resistant bacteria, and this threatens the entire European region,” says Christian Riesbeck.

Reference: “Drug-resistant Gram-negative bacterial infections in war casualties in Ukraine, 2022” by Oskar Ljungquist, Oleksandr Nazarchuk, Gunnar Kalmitter, Vijith Andrews, Thalia Kuithan, Lisa Wasserström, Dmytro Dmitriev, Nadja Fomina, Vera Bebek, Erika Matuszek and Christian Riesbeck , May 23, 2023, Lancet Infectious Diseases.
doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(23)00291-8

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