Drug-resistant Campylobacter Coli Found Among MSM
Mon, August 15, 2022

Drug-resistant Campylobacter Coli Found Among MSM

Campylobacter coli has been found in a number of men who have sex with men in Seattle, Washington State and Montreal, Canada. / Photo by: Katerya Kon via 123rf


Drug-resistant bacteria Campylobacter coli, which appears in most samples of stool with diarrhea, has been found in a number of men who have sex with men (MSM) in Seattle, Washington State and Montreal, Canada. That was the finding of a study that recently appeared in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Clustered Regularly Interspaced Shortchanged Palindromic Repeats

Alexander L. Greninger from the University of Washington’s Department of Laboratory Medicine and Microbiology and team explained that one of the bacterial strains acquired a new gene that made it possible to resist antibiotics through CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Shortchanged Palindromic Repeats). The CRISPR discussed by the team is not the same as the gene-editing technology also called CRISPR. The Clustered Regularly Interspaced Shortchanged Palindromic Repeats are DNA sequences comprising a succession of repeats that are separated by spacers (unique sequences).

The UW School of Medicine also shared in a news release that the “bacteria acquire CRISPR sequences from infecting viruses called bacteriophages,” which is a virus that infects and replicates within archaea and bacteria. The bacteriophages insert DNA fragments into the bacterial genomes and, as a result, the CRISPR sequence has included the drug-resistance gene. The research suggested that the bacteria are being transmitted by MSM.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that an estimated 1.3 million illnesses every year in the US are caused by Campylobacter. Most of the illnesses they recorded occur due to eating undercooked or raw poultry or by eating something that touched the bacteria. Some illnesses are due to drinking raw or unpasteurized milk, contact with animals, or drinking contaminated water. Water and food get contaminated by Campylobacter because it can be carried in the intestines, giblets, and liver of animals and transferred to other edible parts when they’re slaughtered.

While people with Campylobacter infection often recover on their own, there are some cases when they need medical attention.


Water get contaminated by Campylobacter because it can be carried in the intestines, giblets, and liver of animals and transferred to other edible parts when they’re slaughtered. / Photo by: pinkomelet via 123rf


Campylobacter: One of the Leading Causes of Diarrhea Worldwide

The CDC reported that for people who have serious cases of Campylobacter infection, they are advised to take antibiotics. However, the new strain found by Greninger’s group is resistant to antibiotics. 

Antibiotic-resistant happens when germs, such as fungi and bacteria, develop the ability to defeat the drugs that are designed to kill them. This only means that the bacteria continue to grow and, sometimes, even impossible to treat. The World Health Organization said that antibiotic resistance of bacteria is now one of the biggest threats to social development, food security, and global health. The condition leads to increased mortality, higher medical costs, and longer hospital stays.

Why MSM Are at Higher Risk of Being Multidrug-Resistant

The authors of the study said that men having sex with other men are at higher risk of being multidrug-resistant because they may have taken antibiotics in the past to treat sexually transmitted infections. So, although STIs have increased over the years, the less is known about them especially the ones with enteric bacteria. Enteric pathogens are transmitted through contaminated food and water and also sexually.

If the infection among MSM populations has been shown for Shigella bacteria, it also makes sense to see the spread in Campylobacter, the authors opined.  

STI is different from STD (sexually transmitted disease). A person diagnosed with an STI means that they do have an infection that has not yet developed into a disease. Infection occurs when viruses or bacteria enter the body and begin multiplying. It disrupts the normal body structure and function, particularly when symptoms and signs appear.

The CDC added that people with Campylobacter infection usually have bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever. Diarrhea may likewise be accompanied by vomiting and nausea. These symptoms often begin within two to five days after exposure and may last for a week. Moreover, individuals with weakened immune systems may spread the Campylobacter bacteria into their bloodstream and it may lead to life-threatening infection.

Sexually Transmitted Infections

The World Health Organization released a report last June that revealed that more than 1 million STIs are acquired every day worldwide. There are also an estimated 376 million new infections each year with one of these four STIs: trichomoniasis, syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. The approaches the specialized agency suggested to help prevent STI include comprehensive sexuality education (ex. HIV and STI pre- and post-test counseling), risk-reduction or safer sex counseling ( ex. condom promotion), STI interventions in key populations like MSM and sex workers, and STI counseling and prevention tailored to the needs of adolescents.

Meanwhile, Kidsdata of the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health shared the rate of STI in the US in 2017. The rate was per 100,000 people. There were 1,070.5 cases of chlamydia and 227.5 gonorrhea. Some counties in California were also included, such as the Alameda County with 798.9, Butte County 986.7, Contra Costa County 945.2, Kern County 999.5, and Humboldt County (931.3).