Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, who have proposed bills to audit the Federal Reserve and to limit its policy mandate, on Monday set a hearing to discuss measures aimed at the U.S. central bank.The title of the hearing is “Legislation to Reform the Federal Reserve on Its 100-year Anniversary,” according to a memo from the U.S. House Financial Services Committee. The notice did not cite any specific legislation to be discussed at the hearing, set for Thursday, 10:00 am EST (1400 GMT).A spokesman for the committee did not return a call from Reuters seeking more details about the hearing. Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling has pledged to demand more transparency from the Fed.Some politicians have criticized the central bank for its aggressive actions after the financial crisis to lower unemployment and stimulate the economy using unconventional tools such as a monthly bond-buying program and building a balance sheet that now exceeds $4.5 trillion. continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr
Bacteria carrying the very worrisome MCR-1 resistance gene—which makes the last-line antibiotic colistin useless against them—have been found in human and animal samples for the first time in the United States, according to a report today in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy and a statement by federal health officials.A Chinese team first described the MCR-1 gene last November, after finding it in pigs, pork, and humans. Since then scientists in several countries have found the gene, sometimes alongside other resistance genes, after examining their sample collections. The gene can be transferred to other organisms, compounding the concern.Today’s findings involve a 49-year-old woman whose urine contained Escherichia coli harboring the MCR-1 gene and an E coli isolate from a pig intestine that also contained the colistin-resistance gene.MCR-1 in urine sampleThe woman sought care at a Pennsylvania clinic for symptoms of a urinary tract infection 1 month ago today, according to researchers at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Silver Spring, Md. An E coli isolate cultured from her urine was forwarded to Walter Reed for drug-resistance testing.Susceptibility testing revealed the pathogen to be extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)—producing E coli, which are typically resistant to several common antibiotics like penicillin and cephalosporins. Real-time polymerase chain reaction revealed the presence of the MCR-1 gene, signifying extreme drug resistance. In total, the bacterium contained 15 antibiotic-resistance genes on two plasmids (small DNA strands), one of them a novel IncF plasmid.”Colistin is one of the last efficacious antibiotics for the treatment of highly resistant bacteria. The emergence of a transferable gene that confers resistance to this vital antibiotic is extremely disturbing,” said lead author Patrick McGann, PhD, of WRAIR, in a Walter Reed news release.”The discovery of this gene in the U.S. is equally concerning, and continued surveillance to identify reservoirs of this gene within the military healthcare community and beyond is critical to prevent its spread,” he added.The authors wrote in their study, “The association between mcr-1 and IncF plasmids is concerning as these plasmids are vehicles for the dissemination of antibiotic resistance and virulence genes among the Enterobacteriaceae.”Continued surveillance to determine the true frequency for this gene in the USA is critical.”The woman had not traveled outside the country in the previous 5 months, the authors wrote, so the strain is unlikely to have been imported. So far Walter Reed has tested 20 other ESBL-producing E coli isolates, and all have been susceptible to colistin, according to the study.The isolate will be stored in Walter Reed’s Multidrug Resistant Organism Repository and Surveillance Network (MRSN), the release said. Researchers will be able to access it for research on drugs and other MCR-1 countermeasures.”Through our surveillance system, we have the unique ability to coordinate source information with susceptibility and sequencing data, and if need be, go back to understand changes in infecting organisms to best treat infection and track emerging multidrug resistant organisms,” said Col. Emil Lesho, MRSN director.US public health officials are urgently responding to contain and prevent the potential spread of MCR-1, according to the release. The active surveillance that helped identify the woman’s isolate and the storage of isolates helps researchers identify trends in resistance and prevalence.The MRSN is a key component of the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria, the release notes.Resistant gene in swine sampleOn the animal side, today US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) scientists reported that they have found colistin-resistant E coli in a single sample from a pig intestine, HHS said in a blog post.The MCR-1 sample is also resistant to ampicillin, streptomycin, sulfisoxazole, tetracycline, and other antibiotics.The USDA used a modified technique for detecting MCR-1, “employing a targeted and extremely sensitive method to examine whole bacterial populations found in intestinal samples from food-producing animals,” according to the post. So far the swine intestine sample was the only 1 of 949 samples screened that tested positive for MCR-1.In addition, HHS’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration have used whole-genome sequencing to search for MCR-1 in Salmonella, E coli and Klebsiella isolates obtained from people and retail meats. As of April, more than 44,000 Salmonella and 9,000 E coli and Shigella isolates have tested negative for MCR-1, HHS noted.”Although the findings suggest that mcr-1-mediated colistin resistance might be rare, HHS and USDA remind consumers that cooking all meat, poultry and fish to its proper internal temperature kills bacteria, viruses and other foodborne pathogens, whether or not they are antibiotic-resistant,” the blog post said.Beginning this fall, the CDC’s antibiotic resistance lab network will provide the infrastructure and lab capacity for seven to eight regional labs, as well as labs in all states and seven major cities and territories, to detect and respond to resistant organisms recovered from human samples, HHS said.The blog post also said that the CDC is working with the Department of Defense, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and other authorities to identify close contacts of the Pennsylvania patient and whether anyone became infected with bacteria containing the MCR-1 gene. And the USDA is trying to determine the farm of origin for the pig sample.See also:May 26 Antimicrob Agents Chemother reportMay 26 Walter Reed news releaseMay 26 HHS blog post
CAPE TOWN, (Reuters) – Cricket South Africa (CSA) confirmed yesterday they had made former test skipper Graeme Smith’s tenure as director of cricket permanent, keeping him in the role until March 2022. Smith, the most successful test captain in history, has been in the role in an acting capacity since December.CSA acting chief executive Jacques Faul told a media conference that Smith had impressed since in the position.“Graeme has made a huge impact with his energy, expertise, hard work ethic and characteristic determination and passion he has brought to the position,” said Faul. “Although there is certainly a great deal of work to be done, as reflected by the performances of our various national teams, he has certainly put our cricket on an upward trajectory that provides light at the end of the tunnel.”Faul added they were pleased to tie Smith down ahead of what is likely to be a turbulent time for the game due to the COVID-19 pandemic.“We wanted to appoint him permanently from the word go, but there was a lot of uncertainty at the time,” Faul said. “Graeme also wanted to have the opportunity to see if the partnership can work.“I’m not sure if anybody’s career can start with so many challenges and what will be a new way of looking at cricket.”Smith appointed former team mate Mark Boucher as head coach of the national team and started with a 3-1 home test series loss to England, but ended the 2019/20 season with a 3-0 One-Day International whitewash of a strong Australia side. “There is a lot of work that still needs to be done, not just at international level but throughout our pipeline development pathways as well but I am determined to get South African cricket back to where it belongs as one of the world leaders at international level,” Smith, 39, said.The former opening batsman played 117 tests, leading South Africa in 108 of those and winning 53.South Africa are due to tour Sri Lanka for a limited overs series in June but that looks increasingly unlikely due to the global health crisis.