The study published online in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases showed that two genes that confer resistance against a particularly strong class of antibiotics can be shared easily among a family of bacteria."I do not think it is overstating the case to say that for certain types of infections, we may be looking at the start of the post-antibiotic era, a time when most of the antibiotics we rely on to treat bacterial infections are no longer effective," said senior author Gautam Dantas, associate professor at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

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The researchers studied a family of bacteria called Enterobacteriaceae, which includes E. coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Enterobacter.Drug-resistant germs in this family of bacteria recently infected several patients at two Los Angeles hospitals.The infections have been linked to medical scopes believed to have been contaminated with bacteria that can resist carbapenems, potent antibiotics that are supposed to be used only in gravely ill patients or those infected by resistant bacteria.

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