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Two studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine confirm that a deadly bacteria that affects people being treated with antibiotics has become resistant to drugs, and is spreading through hospitals across North America.
One of the studies stated that the new virulent and resistant strain (of the bacteria Clostridium difficile) broke out in eight U.S. hospital centers between 2000 and 2003. Under provocation by antibiotics, the bacterium has shown the ability to mutate quickly and become drug-resistant.
In addition, the bacterium has begun to show up in patients who have not taken antibiotics or visited hospitals.
The other study, involving 12 Quebec hospitals, showed that the incidence of infection has grown fourfold in the Canadian province; in 2004, it caused the deaths of 117 people in the first month after they were diagnosed.
Epidemiologist Clifford McDonald, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, said, “Hospitals need to be conducting surveillance and implementing control measures. And all of us need to realize the risk of antibiotic use may be increasing.”