After nearly 2 years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States will finally lift its travel ban on November 8th, thus re-opening its borders for international travelers from around the globe. Bacteria and their antimicrobial resistance (AMR) genes can spread around the globe in travelers, which can exacerbate public health threats, such as an AMR epidemic on the top of the pandemic.
Scientists at Massachusetts General hospital presented a study at IDWeek 2021 showing an alteration of the gut microbiome and resistome following international travel. Metagenomic studies were performed on stool samples from 273 US travelers prior to and after their trips. Bioinformatic tools such as Kraken2, Resistance Gene Identifier (RGI), and Antibiotic Resistance Gene (ARG) were used to describe the microbial composition and associated resistance to antimicrobial drugs. A significant loss in microbial diversity and a clear perturbation between samples prior to and after the trip were observed. Interestingly, trips to South America were associated with the highest increase in overall resistance gene content, while trips to Southeast Asia were associated with the greatest increase in resistome.
Similarly, earlier this summer, the COMBAT consortium published results, which found an expansion in AMR gene diversity following an international trip. The cohort consisted of samples taken from 190 Dutch individuals traveling to 4 different global subregions. Their findings show that travelers visiting the same geographic destinations correlated with the resistome profiles observed.
These studies highlight the challenges of international traveling on public health and show how endemic AMR signatures can extend across country borders.
Biotia is a high-complexity molecular diagnostic lab with NYS CLIA accreditation. If you are interested in Biotia’s sequencing service or our software tools to translate your metagenomic data with microbial and antimicrobial resistance information, please contact email@example.com. Photo source.
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