International travellers pick up ‘worrisome’ genes that promote microbial resistance, study says

New research suggests worldwide spread of resistant bacteria presents even more of a threat to public health than previously thought, writes Peter Stubley

New superbug genes which promote resistance to antimicrobial drugs are being picked up and spread by international travellers, according to a new study.

Scientists examined bacteria carried in the guts of tourists who returned from disease hotspots in southeastern Asia, south Asia, north Africa and east Africa.

Their findings appeared to confirm that global travel was contributing to the increase in antimicrobial resistance – but it also raised concerns about completely novel genes which could help spread potentially deadly superbugs.

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