Headed abroad? Your gut bacteria quickly pick up antibiotic resistance genes when you travel

| | June 27, 2016
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Beware the travel bug. In a matter of days after venturing abroad, we acquire genes that make the bacteria living inside us resistant to antibiotics.

Earlier studies had shown that certain genes conferring resistance to antibiotics can be picked up by microbes in your gut when you are abroad. Stool samples from 122 travellers showed that the proportion of antibiotic-resistance genes in their gut bacteria increased from below 10% before they left to as much as 55% on their return. They also found that travellers can pick up resistance genes as soon as two days after arriving at their destination.

Petra Wolffs, who presented the results of this study in Boston, suspects that food and water containing native bacteria are the most likely source of the new resistance genes. Reassuringly, none of the travellers in the study suffered any ill effects from the newly acquired genes.

“If you’re healthy, it might not have any serious consequences. We’re more worried about people who are immunocompromised and who might be taking antibiotics already,” Wolffs said.

Read full, original post: Tourists pick up antibiotic-resistance genes in just two days

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