A few months back in 2019, the FDA announced that two people had taken part in faecal microbiota transplants (FMTs) contracted E. coli (this particular strain of the bacteria was antibiotic-resistant.) Out of these two people, unfortunately, one of them died because of this.
The same faecal sample was used for 22 other people. And when contacted, 5 of them seemed to have this strain of bacteria as well. Although none of them has reported any side effects from it as of yet. The researchers believe this antibiotic-resistant bacterium is a result of the lack of guidelines for FMT.
FMT involves taking a faecal sample of healthy people and administrating it into an ill person so as to transfer all the good bacteria into their microbiome. This is done either orally, via capsules or through a rectal colonoscopy.
This treatment is very effective. In a survey conducted, FMT was shown to have cured almost 90% of C. difficile infections. However, it still isn’t standardized and there is no protocol for its administration. This is one of the reasons it isn’t approved by the FDA yet in spite of its success rates. And two patients suffered because of this lack of correct protocol.
As for the two men who contracted the E. coli strain, both were suffering from serious illnesses before the treatment. One of them had cirrhosis of the liver. After having 15 FMT capsules, he developed a cough and fever. The doctors found out he had the drug-resistant E. coli and so gave his two antibiotics to combat that. Fortunately, he recovered from the infection.
However, the second person wasn’t so lucky. The man was suffering from cancer and received FMT in order for his body to not reject the bone marrow transplant. He was also treated with antibiotics after he got ill but it didn’t help. Just two days later, the man passed away.