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Student & Alumni Achievements

Student & Alumni Achievements

Florida Doctoral Student Discovers Rare Antibiotic-resistant Mutation in a UTI-causing Bacteria

Ms. Marissa Valentine-King, a doctoral candidate in One Health in the department of environmental and global health at the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions, has identified a rare mutation in Ureaplasma parvum, a pathogen associated with urinary tract infections (UTIs). The mutation causes resistance to levofloxacin, an antibiotic used to treat Ureaplasma infections.

[Photo: Ms. Marissa Valentine-King]

Ms. Valentine-King and her mentor, Dr. Mary Brown, a professor in the department of infectious diseases and immunology at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine, reported their findings in a recent issue of the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. It is believed to be the first report of this specific genetic mutation in Ureaplasma in the U.S. It is also the first study to evaluate antibiotic resistance in Ureaplasma isolates from college-aged women with first-time UTIs.

The researchers evaluated samples from 180 women with first-time UTIs, along with 80 age-matched controls. Among the samples from women with a UTI, Ms. Valentine-King identified a mutation in U. parvum that is resistant to levofloxacin, an antibiotic prescribed to treat Ureaplasma infections. Unfortunately, treatment options for Ureaplasma infections are already limited, as Ureaplasma do not respond to some of the most frequently-prescribed antibiotic medications.

“Resistance in this organism is especially problematic as drugs typically used to treat UTIs, such as penicillin and Bactrim are useless against Ureaplasma due to its unique structure and properties,” Ms. Valentine-King said.

The UF team’s findings will be available for clinicians so that they can track patterns of antibiotic resistance in their areas.

“Studies like this one can help physicians select appropriate treatments based on regional resistance profiles,” Ms. Valentine-King said.