Antimicrobial resistance is a global problem that makes no distinction between “first world” and developing countries. Driven by the overuse and misuse of antibiotics, antimicrobial-resistant bacteria looms as an international public health disaster.
They are the cause of disease in hospitals, nursing homes and the wider community as sources of “super bacteria” proliferate. Drug-resistant microbes can be found in contaminated surfaces, water and food – even in seagulls.
A study led by Perth’s Murdoch University found Australian seagulls are infected with antimicrobial-resistant bacteria that cause serious infections in humans such as urinary tract infections and sepsis. Published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, the study revealed that one in five seagulls tested were found to carry bacteria that were resistant to commonly used antimicrobial drugs.
A report from the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, Antimicrobial Use and Resistance in Australia (AURA) 2019, warns that despite the issuing of fewer prescriptions for antibiotics and antimicrobials, they continue to be overprescribed. As a result, some dangerous bacteria are growing increasingly resistant to common antibiotics and even last resort treatments.
The report warns that antimicrobial resistance shows little sign of abating and poses an ongoing risk to patient safety, with common pathogens such as E. coli, Salmonella, Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Neisseria meningitidis becoming increasingly resistant to major drug classes.