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International Superbugs

March 9, 2015

Antimicrobial-resistant infections are a growing problem around the world.



Can Tho Vietnam Merton Wilton flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

Can Tho, Vietnam (Merton Wilton/flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0)

International superbugs. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

We hear a lot about microbes evolving resistance to drugs in hospitals and nursing homes. Potentially life-threatening MRSA or Clostridium dificile infections can result. But superbugs are also a growing problem in low-income countries, in part due to the ready availability of antibiotics without a prescription. And these emerging bugs don’t respect borders, according to Oxford University Clinical Research Unit scientist Stephen Baker.

STEPHEN BAKER (Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Vietnam):

These bugs are immensely transmissible, so if new resistance mechanisms emerge in low income countries given how much we travel now, there’s the high likelihood of these genes jumping into hospitals and farms and other locations in higher income countries.


Writing in the journal Science, Baker calls for better policies to restrict the overuse of antimicrobials, which drives the evolution of superbugs in the first place. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.