Deadly Superbugs Cross Borders

Drug resistant bacteria are on the move, highlighting the need for more effective infection control precautions.

AsianScientist (Apr. 21, 2015) – Dangerous superbug clones have successfully spread beyond the borders of the Middle East Gulf States, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.

The superbug Acinetobacter baumannii, a bacteria well known for being antibiotic-resistant and associated with dangerous hospital-acquired infections and subsequent outbreaks, has been found in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain.

University of Queensland PhD student Hosam Zowawi and his adviser Professor David Paterson have collaborated with international researchers to lead the first region-wide collaborative study on superbugs (antibiotic-resistant bacteria) in the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Zowawi said the study found certain A. baumannii clones that were resistant to last-line antibiotics were prevalent in all Gulf States.

“Our study found multiple clones of this particular superbug have found their ways to different cities in the Gulf States,” he said. “Most notably, we found a big cluster of bacteria with identical genetic fingerprints in Riyadh, Khobar, Kuwait, Manama, Muscat and Abu Dhabi, which is a very unusual finding.”

“We used to see clones of this bacteria spreading inside individual hospitals and causing outbreaks from patient-to-patient transmission, but we have never before encountered a clone that is scattered across the entire (Arabian) Peninsula.”

The findings shed light on how the superbug clones spread throughout their region, and allow researchers to find patterns and understand them better.

“We anticipate this finding should encourage collaboration between clinical, veterinary and environmental microbiologists to understand where these clones originate from, how they find their way into our hospitals and what is making them successful travelers.”

“Answering these mysteries will potentially suggest interventions to limit future international spread.”

Paterson highlighted the need for hospitals to work together to combat the regional spread of superbugs.

“The results of this study will hopefully encourage hospitals to implement or strengthen effective infection control precautions to minimize the risk of spreading superbugs between patients, hospitals and across international borders,” he said.

The article can be found at: Zowawi et al. (2015) Molecular Epidemiology Of Carbapenem-Resistant Acinetobacter baumannii Isolates In The Gulf Cooperation Council States: Dominance Of OXA-23-Type Producers.


Source: The University of Queensland; Photo: Manoj Vasanth/Flickr/CC.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Asian Scientist Magazine is an award-winning science and technology magazine that highlights R&D news stories from Asia to a global audience. The magazine is published by Singapore-headquartered Wildtype Media Group.

Related Stories from Asian Scientist