Flying as a carrier of antibiotic-resistant germs
The increasing resistance to antibiotics poses an ever increasing challenge to healthcare. The problem must be brought under control soon, otherwise experts say millions of people could die in the coming decades. Researchers have now found evidence that flies could also play an important role in the transmission of antibiotic-resistant germs.
Fighting antibiotic resistance
"It cannot leave anyone indifferent that more and more people worldwide die from germs that are resistant to antibiotics," said the then Federal Minister of Health, Hermann Gröhe, last year. "We have to fight antibiotic resistance resolutely - nationally and internationally." Indeed, in recent years, more and more governments and experts have announced that they want to step up the fight against antibiotic resistance. who found evidence that flies could also play an important role in the transmission of antibiotic-resistant germs.
Flies ingest antibiotics via excretions from farm animals
Cow patties, pig manure, slaughterhouse waste - what is rather unsavory for humans is literally a feast for many flies, according to a statement from the Medical Faculty of the Westphalian Wilhelms University (WWU) in Münster.
However, a lot of antibiotics are used in animal fattening, which can produce resistant germs.
Exactly these take up the insects through the excretions of the farm animals. Since flies also have contact with humans, they are an "ideal" transmitter of pathogens.
Scientists at the University of Münster have now, together with an international team, examined the importance of the dirty fly in the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
In two meetings in Amsterdam and Vienna, they discussed all previously available research work on the topic and published their results in the specialist magazine "Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease".
A Münster study had already shown in 2016 that up to 20 percent of all flies in the rural region are populated with resistant germs such as Escherichia coli (ESBL-producing E. coli), which can cause severe infections in humans that are difficult to treat.
"With our work at the time, we were able to demonstrate that the bacteria in the flies examined often had the same resistance genes as the bacteria in our patients," explains Prof. Frieder Schaumburg from the Institute of Medical Microbiology.
"There was a connection - but that had not yet been proven reliably."
All available research results compiled
Microbiologists, infectiologists, veterinarians and entomologists met to further investigate the role of “filth flies” (“dirty flies”) - flies that use excrement and decaying material for food and egg laying - as carriers of other antibiotic-resistant germs (Insect experts) to workshops in Amsterdam and Vienna.
The experts - including from Gabon, Canada and Denmark - compiled all the research results available to date and discussed them in an interdisciplinary manner - with a clear result:
“All antibiotic resistance that doctors fear today can be demonstrated on flies. This includes, for example, the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus - better known as the dreaded "hospital germ" MRSA, "says workshop leader Schaumburg.
“We were also able to demonstrate that the antibiotic-resistant bacteria of flies, humans and animals are almost identical. So it's very likely that flies play an important role in spreading. ”
However, the microbiologist warns against hasty conclusions: “A lot of research is still needed to check the proportion of resistant pathogens caused by flies in the number of infections in hospitals and medical practices. But we will already have to deal with effective, ecologically sensible pest control now. ”(Ad)