Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Antibiotic-resistant gene traced back to Kingdom

Antibiotic-resistant gene traced back to Kingdom

A vial of branded Colistin, which is used to thwart the most obstinate of infections.
A vial of branded Colistin, which is used to thwart the most obstinate of infections. Bloomberg

Antibiotic-resistant gene traced back to Kingdom

A gene resistant to antibiotics of last resort is believed to be circulating in Cambodia, according to researchers in the Netherlands who have documented a troubling spread of the gene across three continents.

The MCR-1 gene, known to be common among farm animals in China, gives bacteria that carry it resistance to particular antibiotics, including Colistin, which is used to cure highly resistant infections.

Findings published this month by a team from the Academic Medical Centre, Amsterdam, suggest that the MCR-1 gene is also present in gut bacteria in the Kingdom, creating a greater risk of drug resistance among the population.

“When you have a lot of people carrying this bacteria, at a population level it may be increasingly difficult to treat specific infections,” says Constance Schultsz, who conducted the study of E coli bacteria from Dutch travellers who had visited Southeast Asia.

“What is worrisome is that it was found in perfectly healthy people, so it is remarkable how easily it can be acquired,” she said, adding that the notable resistance of bacteria found in Cambodia may be linked to the country’s high rates of antibiotic usage.

Colistin, which can be used to treat anything from urinary tract infections to septicaemia, was considered outmoded for decades, but has regained currency as newer antibiotics have been made redundant by resistance. In 2012, it was declared critically important for human medicine by the WHO, despite being rarely used.

“It is difficult to prescribe and hard to find here,” explained Eng Lengsea, head of the microbiology laboratory at Phnom Penh’s Calmette Hospital, who has been monitoring antibiotic resistance for more than five years.

“And this is a good thing, because if it is more available on the market, people will become more resistant.”

The WHO was not available for comment yesterday, but has previously acknowledged antibiotic resistance as a major public health concern in Cambodia.

MOST VIEWED

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,