Study points to increased antibiotic resistance

20 June 2006

Bacteria are remarkably resourceful at finding ways to get around new antibiotics according to research undertaken by Professor Ruth Hall from the University's School of Molecular and Microbial Biosciences.

The collaborative study, which was also undertaken by Professor Hatch Stokes from Macquarie University, found that more than 90 per cent of the harmless E.coli bacteria found in the stomachs of healthy people were multi drug resistant.

Samples were taken from healthy people who were entering a Sydney hospital for minor treatment and E coli samples were found to be resistant to up to five drugs.

Professors Hall and Stokes blame the resistance on the overuse of antibiotics, warning that although this doesn't present a problem for a healthy person, the resistant gene could be transferred to more harmful bacteria that also pass through the gut.

'The same results could be expected at any hospital or in any city in Australia. Overuse of antibiotics has meant that bugs with resistant genes have flourished, and are able to spread their genes to other unrelated species,' said Professor Hall.

Detailed results of the study will be released by Professor Hall at the annual conference of the Australian Society for Microbiology next month.

Contact: Jake O'Shaughnessy

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