Minnesota selected for national fight against drug-resistant bacteria

Minnesota will be on the front lines of the fight against bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

The Minnesota Department of Health’s lab was selected as one of seven regional labs, and will coordinate with nine states: Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Missouri, and Arkansas.

The lab is tasked with detecting new resistant bacteria, responding to outbreaks, and gathering and sharing data for better research. 

“We’re really excited to dig in and do more because this really is such an important threat,” Dr. Ruth Lynfield, the state’s epidemiologist, told Fox 9. “It really speaks volumes about our public health laboratory, which really is a terrific laboratory.”

Bacteria have increasingly become resistant to antibiotics due to overuse, and bacteria resistant to antibiotics of last resort have recently been found in the United States.

“This is huge, this is huge. This really does impact our ability to provide healthcare, and we really owe it to our children and our grandchildren to make sure we still have tools in the toolbox for them,” Lynfield said.

The state lab will receive about $2.7 million from the federal government; the award is part of President Obama’s call for a national plan for fighting resistant bacteria.