Antibiotic-resistant salmonella poses threat to US travellers

Posted: 1st September 2021

Up to 60% of US travellers who contracted salmonella abroad were resistant to fluoroquinolones; a common antibiotic used to treat the condition, US scientists have discovered. The findings highlight the growing threat of drug-resistant germs and the limitations of current antibiotic treatments, researchers have stated.

Salmonella causes 1.35 million infections, 26,500 hospitalisations and 420 deaths every year in the US alone, with many more millions worldwide suffering illness. There are over 2,000 different types of salmonella, a growing number of which are resistant to antibiotics.

Researchers at Washington State University found that 60% of Washington residents infected with the specific strain salmonella Kentucky picked up abroad were resistant to treatment with fluoroquinolones. 

While the risk to the US population remains low, the personal impact of contracting such a resistant infection could be severe, warn researchers. “One, you’re likely not going to recover with antibiotics. Two, you’re going to disturb your normal bacteria in your body, and it can make your infection worse,” said Devendra Shah, an Associate Professor at Washington State University.

The findings raise concerns that such drug-resistant infections could spread rapidly. “Quite frankly, I think we’ve just gotten lucky this drug-resistant type hasn’t popped up in the US yet,” said co-author of the paper Rachel Soltys.

The research is further evidence of the challenges posed by antimicrobial resistance (AMR), the reduction in the effectiveness of antibiotics caused by overprescribing. The more antibiotics we use, the less effective they are – and the greater the likelihood of antibiotic-resistant infections emerging, which could threaten the health and wellbeing of us all.

A recent UK study published in the Lancet Journal of Infectious Diseases concluded that “Although interventions targeting antibiotic use can result in changes in resistance over a short period, they might be insufficient alone to curtail antimicrobial resistance.” 

To stop the rise of drug-resistant infections, such as salmonella, clinicians must reduce the number of antibiotics prescribed – and genetic testing can help.

Biocentaur’s SNPs test is an advanced genetic test that uses a molecular biology technique called quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) to identify genetic variations called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that provide crucial information on how a patient’s body will respond to treatment with drugs, including antibiotics. 

The SNPs test uses information stored in DNA to identify which antibiotics will and won’t be effective. The tests’ results can help clinicians achieve two aims: optimising treatments for better outcomes and reducing unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions. 

You can learn more about our SNPs test and our range of genetic tests here

You can read Washington State University’s press release here

You can read the full paper, Effect of antibiotic stewardship interventions in primary care on antimicrobial resistance of Escherichia coli bacteraemia in England (2013–18): a quasi-experimental, ecological, data linkage study, here

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