A new drug-resistant strain of Pneumo-cystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) may be on the rise.
In the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, PCP was often the cause of death in people who had AIDS. However, effective treatments such as trimethoprim sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra) prevented and treated PCP occurrences.
Investigators reported two cases of drug-resistant PCP in a small cohort study of 27 patients at the University of Michigan. Resistance occurred where sulpha-based drugs such as Bactrim usually bind.
Confirming that this strain of bacteria is resistant, would require scientists to culture it in vitro. This is not possible.
Scientists noted that 12 of 19 people within that study developed a mutant strain of PCP, but were able to be treated with Bactrim and are doing fine. As more mutations appear, however, sulpha drugs will not work.
According to researchers, this is not expected to be a problem in the U.S. because many people with HIV/AIDS are on effective combination therapies.