It was a Friday in mid-May, and Erik Snesrud was checking out the first batch of samples under a new directive.
The order had just come in to look for a new gene called mcr-1 that had already achieved global notoriety among microbiologists. It gives germs the ability to withstand the effects of colistin, a last-resort antibiotic used to save the lives of people infected with serious superbugs.
The sample was loaded into one of the super-fast gene sequencers at the lab inside the bowels of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. The small team at the Multidrug Resistant Organism Repository and Surveillance Network (MRSN) lab specializes in testing germs for antibiotic resistance, which has become the scourge of hospitals all over the world.