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Drug-resistant bacteria in Battambang prompts call for research

A person in Phnom Penh packs pills, including antibiotics, into medication packages at a pharmacy in 2014.
A person in Phnom Penh packs pills, including antibiotics, into medication packages at a pharmacy in 2014. Pha Lina

Drug-resistant bacteria in Battambang prompts call for research

Clinicians have called for more laboratories and research after the discovery of multi-drug-resistant bacteria in sick patients in Battambang.

In 2014 and 2015, researchers analysed 212 stool samples of patients with acute diarrhea in health care facilities in Battambang, according to a paper to be published in the September edition of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal and made available on the agency’s website on Wednesday.

The research found that Shigella bacteria resistant to several drugs, such as ampicillin, tetracycline and trimethoprim, were present in 10 of the samples.

One of the researchers, Chiek Sivhour, head of microbiology at the Battambang Referral Hospital, said the data would be shared with the Ministry of Health to hopefully prompt action to minimise resistance.

Frances Daily, a clinical mentor at the Diagnostic Microbiology Development Program in Battambang, cautioned the sample was too small to draw conclusions but agreed antibiotic multi-drug resistance in Cambodia was worsening.

“We do not yet have countrywide data that is representative, but rather small patchy data that researchers or labs collect,” he said.

Sivhour said more labs and more research were needed. Only six of the country’s 25 provincial hospitals have microbiology labs.

Ministry of Health spokesman Ly Sovann did not respond to requests for comment.

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