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Drug-Resistant Scarlet Fever Outbreak Has Infected Nearly 550 People In Hong Kong

An outbreak of drug-resistant and particularly virulent strains of scarlet fever has infected nearly 550 people and killed two children in Hong Kong so far this year, about double the Chinese city’s average annual total, the Associated Press reports.

“Local media also are reporting some 9,000 cases detected in mainland China, also about twice the normal rate there, but it’s unclear if it’s becoming a regional problem because many countries do not track the common childhood illness, according to the World Health Organization,” the news service notes (Mason, 6/27).

According to ScienceInsider, “University of Hong Kong microbiologist Kwok-Yung Yuen says an analysis of a draft sequence of the genome suggests that the strain acquired greater virulence and drug resistance by picking up one or more genes from bacteria normally found in the human oral and urogenital tracts. He believes that the overuse of antibiotics is driving the emergence of drug resistance in these bacteria” (Normile, 6/27).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.