New Study finds Middle East set to wage a war against superbugs

July 16, 2013, University of Queensland

(Medical Xpress)—University of Queensland researchers warn the Middle East Gulf States are facing a rapid growth in superbugs due to the overuse of antibiotics, poor hand-hygiene in hospitals and medical tourism.

With more than 15,000 expatriate Australians living and working in the United Arab Emirates alone, the rise of potentially deadly superbugs (antibiotic resistant bacteria) in the region is of international concern.

UQ Centre for Clinical Research PhD candidate Hosam Mamoon Zowawi and his advisor, Professor David Paterson, have collaborated with international researchers to lead the first systematic literature review of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain.

The study found a particular strain of potentially deadly superbugs – carbapenem-resistant bacteria, which kills up to half of infected patients – has increased up to 90 per cent over the past two decades.

Mr Zowawi said the study identified unique risk factors that could have contributed to the rise and spread of hospital- and community-acquired infections across the GCC states, with the unnecessary use of antibiotics standing out as a particular risk.

"Superbugs are born and grow from the irrational use of antibiotics and it's clear from our research that active guidelines must be implemented to restrict their use in the GCC region," Mr Zowawi said.

"Although non-prescription sales of antibiotics are illegal in the GCC states, 68 per cent of pharmacies in Abu Dhabi, 78 per cent in Riyadh and 87 out of 88 pharmacies included in a study in Saudi Arabia had sold antibiotics to patients unnecessarily and/or without a prescription.

"Furthermore, 75 percent of patients who received in the of a Qatar hospital in 2004 did not have a microbiologically-proven infection."

Researchers also found that poor hand-hygiene compliance in hospitals and the region's large population of migrant workers could have also contributed to the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Mr Zowawi, who received a full scholarship from the government of Saudi Arabia to pursue PhD studies at the UQ Centre for Clinical Research, said intervention methods are desperately needed to combat the medical disaster facing the GCC states.

"Our recommended management strategies for combating superbugs in the GCC region begin with implementing an antimicrobial stewardship program in health care facilities to reduce over-prescription, shorten hospital stays, and reduce costs," Mr Zowawi said.

"Improving basic infection control precautions like hand-hygiene, and prohibiting the availability of without a prescription should also be mandatory, particularly in conjunction with a mass education campaign about antibiotic use."

Professor Paterson, who leads the Centre for Clinical Research Infection and Immunity group, said Mr Zowawi is working with multiple laboratories and companies to design, test and validate innovative diagnostic tests for rapidly identifying antibiotic-resistance in bacteria.

"We have developed the first GCC-wide network of collaborating hospitals and institutes to study superbugs in the region, which we hope will expand toward developing an ongoing surveillance project for ," Professor Paterson said.

"Better diagnostic methods, in conjunction with up-to-date regional surveillance data, would improve the targeted for physicians and could save lives by helping microbiologists track outbreaks around the world," he said.

The research findings are published in this month's Clinical Microbiology Reviews journal.

Explore further: Getting better without antibiotics

Related Stories

Getting better without antibiotics

May 30, 2013
Given the option, many women with symptoms of urinary tract infections are choosing to avoid antibiotics and give their bodies a chance to heal naturally, finds research in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Family ...

Targeting prescribers can reduce excessive use of antibiotics in hospitals

April 29, 2013
Giving prescribers access to education and advice or imposing restrictions on use can curb overuse or inappropriate use of antibiotics in hospitals, according to a new Cochrane systematic review. This is important because ...

Roads pave the way for the spread of superbugs

September 29, 2011
Antibiotic resistant E. coli was much more prevalent in villages situated along roads than in rural villages located away from roads, which suggests that roads play a major role in the spread or containment of antibiotic ...

Study finds taking probiotics has benefits for patients in hospitals

June 4, 2013
Patients in hospital who are on antibiotics may benefit from taking probiotics, according to researchers at St. Michael's Hospital.

Technology could provide a solution to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, save lives

March 28, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Through the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, several types of bacteria have become resistant to drugs that were designed to kill them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that some ...

Recommended for you

New study offers insights on genetic indicators of COPD risk

January 16, 2018
Researchers have discovered that genetic variations in the anatomy of the lungs could serve as indicators to help identify people who have low, but stable, lung function early in life, and those who are particularly at risk ...

Previous influenza virus exposures enhance susceptibility in another influenza pandemic

January 16, 2018
While past exposure to influenza A viruses often builds immunity to similar, and sometimes different, strains of the virus, Canadian researchers are calling for more attention to exceptions to that rule.

Don't hold your nose and close your mouth when you sneeze, doctors warn

January 15, 2018
Pinching your nose while clamping your mouth shut to contain a forceful sneeze isn't a good idea, warn doctors in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

New antifungal provides hope in fight against superbugs

January 12, 2018
Microscopic yeast have been wreaking havoc in hospitals around the world—creeping into catheters, ventilator tubes, and IV lines—and causing deadly invasive infection. One culprit species, Candida auris, is resistant ...

Dengue takes low and slow approach to replication

January 11, 2018
A new study reveals how dengue virus manages to reproduce itself in an infected person without triggering the body's normal defenses. Duke researchers report that dengue pulls off this hoax by co-opting a specialized structure ...

Different strains of same bacteria trigger widely varying immune responses

January 11, 2018
Genetic differences between different strains of the same pathogenic bacterial species appear to result in widely varying immune system responses, according to new research published in PLOS Pathogens.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.