Concerns are out that antibiotic-resistant bacteria are spreading fast through polluted air in cities. This follows a study conducted by researchers at the Gothenburg University.
The results showed Beijing City's air pollution had been a carrier of DNA from genes that turn bacteria resistant even to the strongest of antibiotics.
"This may be a more important means of transmission than previously thought," commented Joakim Larsson, Director of the Centre for Antibiotic Resistance Research at the University of Gothenburg.
The study has been published in the Microbiome journal.
Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria In the Air
During the study, the researchers probed genes that make bacteria resistant to antibiotics. They analyzed 864 samples of DNA extracted from animals, humans, and other environments.
"The air samples we did analyze showed a wide mix of different resistance genes," said Larsson.
They expressed high concern over the growth of genes that resist carbapenems — last resort antibiotics used in hard-to-treat bacterial infections. However, clarity was missing in the study whether the bacteria was alive in the air so as to pose a real threat.
"It is reasonable to believe that there is a mixture of live and dead bacteria, based on experience from other studies of air," said Larsson.
Larsson is known for his study on water-borne pollution caused by the discharge of antibiotics from pharmaceutical units in India as a factor that breeds resistant bacteria.
Now, the research has turned attention to the role of European sewage treatment plants in spreading the contagious pathogens.
"We're going to let treatment plant employees carry air samplers. We will also study their bacterial flora and flora of people who live very close and farther away, and see if there seems to be a connection to the treatment plants," Larsson added.
Effects Of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria On Children
Meanwhile, the menace of expanding antibiotic-resistant bacteria is harming more children who are coping with weak immune systems.
Adding to the conundrum is the finding that antibiotics are losing power as revealed in a study on child patients.
Soaring infection rates among children are putting pressure on scientists to develop new medicines that can overcome the antibiotic resistant bacteria.
One example is P. aeruginosa — a common bacteria that causes skin rashes. It has become highly antibiotic resistant according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Causing severe symptoms including death, the details of the bacteria are discussed in the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society.
In the decade-long survey, the study examined child patients from 300 hospitals in the United States.
Noting the alarming growth rate of P. aeruginosa bacteria, which in 1999 resisted three types of antibiotics, the study said the same has soared to 26 in 2012.
More worrying was the surge in infections caused by P. aeruginosa in children. Though commonplace, P. aeruginosa is still "associated with significant morbidity and mortality," said the study's author Latania K. Logan, who is a doctor at the Rush University Medical Center.