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Antibiotic-Resistant Typhoid From Asia Is Spreading Worldwide

  • More than 100,000 people die each year from typhoid fever

Antibiotic-resistant typhoid strains mostly from South Asia have spread across borders almost 200 times in the past 3 decades, accord to new study.

Treatment-resistant typhoid originating mostly from South Asia has springboarded across borders almost 200 times in the past three decades, according to new research that underscores the increasing global threat of infections that can evade antibiotics.

Between 2014 and 2019, scientists sequenced the genomes from 3,489 cases of S. Typhi, the bacteria that causes typhoid fever and kills over 100,000 people annually. Data from four high-burden nations -- Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan -- were combined with an analysis of 4,169 similar samples from more than 70 countries over a 113-year period, making it the largest study of its kind.

The findings, published in The Lancet Microbe, showed that while resistance to first-line treatments generally declined across South Asia, global issues remained. The number of strains able to overpower macrolides and quinolones, two important types of antibiotics, climbed sharply and frequently spread to other countries, the study found.

For years scientists have beaten the drum about rising cases of deadly bugs that can survive treatment with the most potent antibiotics. Drug-resistant diseases killed more people than HIV or malaria in 2019, according to a separate study published in January. Recent examples include rising infections in the US, along with last year’s deadly fungus outbreak in India, where the misuse of antibiotics in humans and animals is exacerbated by poor sanitation.

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