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Not just extreme events like hurricanes, floods and heat waves. Climate change would also play a decisive role in the development and spread of antibiotic resistant superbugs.
The confirmation comes from a study presented during the twenty-ninth European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, held in Amsterdam.
What are superbugs
Superbugs are particularly strong microorganisms, difficult to combat with antibiotics because, over the years, they have evolved to become resistant to the action that these drugs should produce on them.
In Europe, superbugs caused 33,110 deaths in one year, mainly among the elderly and children in the first months of life. One third of the victims - over 10 thousand - were in Italy.
Alarming data that make the issue ofantibiotic resistance a global emergency, so much so that it is at the top of the agendas of institutions around the world, fromEfsa (European Food Safety Authority) up to the World Health Organization. It is speculated that in 2050 antibiotic resistance will bring bacterial infections to the top of the planet's killers.
The threat of superbugs: the relationship with climate change
A previous study published in Nature Climate Change in 2018 it had already highlighted a link between the increase in local temperatures in the United States and the growth of antibiotic resistance by bacteria.
In the new research, carried out by the University Medical Center of Göttingen, the experts wanted to find out if there were similar trends in Europe. They therefore analyzed data from 30 countries belonging to the European Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Network.
In particular, the study found a significant correlation between the variation in the average temperature of the hot season and the spread of bacteria such as Klebsiella pneumoniae, L'Escherichia coli multidrug, lo Staphylococcus aureus resistant to methicillin and the Pseudomonas aeruginosa resistant to carbapenems.
Antibiotic resistance: the other causes
Many scientific works have linked the growing drug resistance to the abuse of antibiotics in humans and agriculture in recent decades. However, at the end of 2017 the United Nations turned the spotlight on another possible cause of antibiotic resistance: pollution, more precisely the contamination that affects water and soil.
The correlation was analyzed within the Frontiers report, document ofUNEP (United Nations Environment Program) focused on the environmental implication in the processes that lead to the creation of superbugs. As explained in the report, once taken most of the antibiotics - about 80% - are expelled from the body not yet metabolized together with the surviving bacteria and therefore resistant to drugs.
“The release into the environment of sub-lethal levels of various antimicrobial compounds through household and hospital wastewater and agricultural run-off, combined with direct contact between natural bacterial communities and bacteria present in drains, is driving microbial evolution and more resistant strains emerge”, Reads the document.
In short, you cannot sleep peacefully on the superbug front. And new evidence on the link between these microorganisms and climate change further exacerbates an already difficult picture to address.