New antibiotics were introduced to fight the ever changing and more resistant strains. Vancomycin, the antibiotic of last resort, has been used to fight infections when all other drugs fail, but has recently met its match with strains that have become resistant to this last line of defense.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a highly virulent infection that has become resistant to most antibiotics. MRSA is a bacteria that is normally found in healthy people and usually is merely a passive bystander. However, it can cause skin infections and can occasionally be quite severe. By 1987 hospitals in Europe were reporting the first cases of vancomycin resistant Enterococcus. Between 1987 and 1993 the problem was escalating and had resulted in a 20 fold increase in the number of cases of vancomycin resistant enterococcus reported by intensive care units in hospitals in the United States. It was reported in 1992 that the vancomycin resistant gene from Enterococcus had been transferred to Staphylococcus aureus in a laboratory in England. The researchers were alarmed and destroyed the bacteria.
According to Dr. Ricki Lewis reporting in the FDA Consumer magazine in 1995, "... bacteria swap resistance genes like teenagers swap T-shirts".