Deadly antibiotic-resistant bacteria island-hops around the Pacific

A drug-resistant infection is “a ticking time bomb” in the Pacific – including New Zealand, according to new Otago University research.

A landmark study, just published in The Lancet Regional Health – Western Pacific journal, has found strains of carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii (known as CRAb) are spreading between India, Fiji, Samoa, Australia and New Zealand.

Lead author Sakiusa Baleivanualala, from Otago’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology and the College of Medicine Nursing and Health Science at the Fiji National University, said little was known about CRAb transmission in the region.

The team identified previously unrecognised outbreaks of CRab in Fiji and Samoa that linked to strains in other parts of Oceania and South Asia, which indicated “the potential for high mobility and dissemination”.

“CRAb can cause infections of the blood, urinary tract, and lungs and, because it is resistant to medicine, infections are hard to treat, with an increased risk of disease spread, severe illness and death,” he said. Continue reading

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