Antibiotic Users Travelling Abroad May Be Spreading ‘Superbugs’

While the United States fears the importation of generally self-limiting childhood diseases from international travel, a new report indicates that travelers from nations with high antibiotic use, such as the U.S., may be responsible for spreading superbugs around the globe. Last year, the World Health Organization warned that antibiotic-resistant superbugs had become so aggressive and widespread that we were already entering a “post-antibiotic era.” An Inquisitr writer recently reported that the superbug MRSA is “one of the leading causes of death in United States nursing homes and is easily transmitted from surfaces.”

Another Inquisitr writer reported on the severity of superbugs, saying that “Superbugs already kill about 700,000 people each year worldwide, 50,000 in the U.S. alone. That number is expected to increase over ten fold, to hit about 10 million by 2050. To put that in perspective, cancer, one of the most widely feared and deadly diseases today, kills about 8.2 million.”

Superbugs, resistant to many antibiotics, have replaced wild illnesses as risks to humanity, but headlines continue to focus on vaccine preventable infectious diseases.

The focus of the recent study on superbugs in on antibiotic use for the treatment of travelers’ diarrhea. Travelers from modernized countries, “in an attempt to improve their trips could be putting themselves and others at further risk,” a writer for Medical News Today reported.

“Not only that, but travelers could also be spreading drug-resistant bacteria to their own countries, contributing the growing problem of antimicrobial resistance.”

The goal of the study, according to the press release was to “determine if their guts became colonized by a resistant type of bacteria from the Enterobacteriaceae family that produces a key enzyme, extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL), which confers resistance to many commonly used antibiotics.”

An estimated 10 million international travelers develop “travelers’ diarrhea,” according to the CDC.

Dr. Anu Kantele, author of the new report published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, said that the use of antibiotics for traveler’s diarrhea is generally unneeded, though travelers often take antibiotics for it anyway.

“The great majority of all cases of travelers’ diarrhea are mild and resolve on their own.”

Kantele’s report states that more than 20 percent of travelers return to their countries colonized by resistant bacteria. Because of their over aggressive antibiotic use, 37 percent of the study’s participants who took antibiotics to combat traveler’s diarrhea became colonized, according to the research.

“More than 300 million people visit these high-risk regions every year. If approximately 20% of them are colonized with the bugs, these are really huge numbers. This is a serious thing. The only positive thing is that the colonization is usually transient, lasting for around half a year.”

The authors of the study on antibiotic use for travelers’ diarrhea contributing to the spread of superbugs say that to stop the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria, officials could consider restricting the use of antibiotics, even it if might be an inconvenience to people while traveling.

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