Tuesday, May 22, 2018

A Warming Climate May Produce More Drug-Resistant Infections

A person’s chances of acquiring a drug-resistant infection may be higher if she lives in a warmer area.
MRSA bacteria, colored scanning electron micrograph (SEM).
A study appearing today in Nature Climate Change from researchers at the University of Toronto (U.T.) and Boston Children’s Hospital links the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria to a hotter climate. Researchers found a 10-degree Celsius increase in daily minimum temperature was associated with a small increase in resistance in common pathogens, including those that develop into methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), the root of many persistent and sometimes deadly hospital infections. “This is a very important and timely study stemming from meticulously collected and arranged records of antibiotic resistance,” says Elena Naumova, an epidemiologist at Tufts University who was not involved in the work. “What’s great about this study is that they really broaden the concept of antibiotic-resistance patterns.”

Scientists have long observed bacteria in the laboratory grow and reproduce more quickly at warmer temperatures. And increased growth can cause a hike in resistant strains when DNA mutations crop up during reproduction. Bacteria can also swap DNA with one another and spread resistance via a process called horizontal gene transfer, which also increases at higher temperatures. Now scientists are asking if this phenomenon also occurs outside the laboratory.

Read the story by Monique Brouillette from Scientific American - “A Warming Climate May Produce More Drug-Resistant Infections.”

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