London – A deadly superbug is evolving to survive in hospitals and has developed to thrive in a sugar-rich Western diet.
The biggest-ever study of gut-infecting bacterium Clostridium difficile found it is mutating into two different species, with one adapted to spread in hospitals.
Researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine studied 906 strains of C.diff from humans, animals and the environment, and discovered that it has begun to evolve.
The experts, whose findings were published in Nature Genetics, believe it began adapting to a human diet thousands of years ago.
One species, or clade, made up around 70 percent of the samples from hospital patients and is able to sidestep common disinfectants. Report author Dr Nitin Kumar, of the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said: "C.diff is currently forming a new species with one group specialised to spread in hospital environments. This particular bacteria was primed to take advantage of modern healthcare practices and human diets, before hospitals even existed."