Even as the veggie blame game is now under way across the EU, where a super resistant strain of e.coli is sickening patients and filling hospitals in Germany, virtually no one is talking about how e.coli could have magically become resistant to eight different classes of antibiotic drugs and then suddenly appeared in the food supply.
This particular e.coli variation is a member of the O104 strain, and O104 strains are almost never (normally) resistant to antibiotics. In order for them to acquire this resistance, they must be repeatedly exposed to antibiotics in order to provide the “mutation pressure” that nudges them toward complete drug immunity.
So if you’re curious about the origins of such a strain, you can essentially reverse engineer the genetic code of the e.coli and determine fairly accurately which antibiotics it was exposed to during its development. This step has now been done (see below), and when you look at the genetic decoding of this O104 strain now threatening food consumers across the EU, a fascinating picture emerges of how it must have come into existence.
The genetic code reveals the history
When scientists at Germany’s Robert Koch Institute decoded the genetic makeup of the O104 strain, they found it to be resistant to all the following classes and combinations of antibiotics:
• nalidixic acid
• amoxicillin / clavulanic acid