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Overuse of Abx for Travelers’ Diarrhea Creating Superbugs

Researchers recommend caution when using antibiotics to treat digestive ills while abroad

THURSDAY, Jan. 22, 2015 (HealthDay News) — The overuse of antibiotics to treat travelers’ diarrhea may contribute to the spread of drug-resistant superbugs, a new study suggests. The findings were published online Jan. 21 in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

The researchers tested 430 people from Finland before and after they traveled outside of the country. About one in five of those who traveled to tropical and subtropical regions unknowingly returned with antibiotic-resistant intestinal bacteria. More than one-third of the travelers who took antibiotics for diarrhea came home with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according to the study.

Eighty percent of travelers to South Asia who took antibiotics to treat diarrhea contracted antibiotic-resistant intestinal bacteria. Other regions that posed a high risk were Southeast Asia, East Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East.

“More than 300 million people visit these high-risk regions every year,” lead author Anu Kantele, M.D., Ph.D., of the Helsinki University Hospital in Finland, said in a journal news release. “If approximately 20 percent of them are colonized with the bugs, these are really huge numbers. This is a serious thing. The only positive thing is that the colonization is usually transient, lasting for around half a year.”

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