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Gram-negative resistance: can we combat the coming of a new “Red Plague”?

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Coordinated action is urgently needed to tackle a looming public health crisis

Everybody knows that pestilences have a way of recurring in the world; yet somehow we find it hard to believe in ones that crash down on our heads from a blue sky. There have been as many plagues as wars in history; yet always plagues and wars take people equally by surprise. Albert Camus, The plague, Part 11

Infectious diseases scourges in history have had devastating effects on unprepared human populations. Bubonic plague, or the “Black Death”, killed more than a third of Europe’s population from 1346 to 1351, and the “White Plague” (tuberculosis) became epidemic in Europe throughout the 19th century. These plagues provide many lessons from which we can learn if we are to contain the spread of gram-negative resistance — the coming of a new “Red Plague”.

In 1884, Danish bacteriologist Hans Christian Gram published a stain method for distinguishing bacteria. Gram-negative bacteria do not retain a blue dye (crystal violet) and are stained pink or red by use of a counterstain, hence the term “red”.…