Norwegians risk bringing antibiotic-resistant bacteria home from abroad

antibiotic-resistant bacteriaAntibiotic-resistant bacteria.Photo: Cornelius Poppe / NTB scanpix

Norwegians who have been hospitalised abroad may risk bringing antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria home, and living with them in their body for several years, according to a new study.


Researchers from the University Hospital of Northern Norway (UNN), Vestre Viken Hospital, and Akershus University Hospital, have followed the medical histories of more than 100 patients with urinary tract infections caused by resistant E. coli bacteria, wrote an academic researcher from the University of Tromsø (UiT).

Patients had been on relatively many foreign trips the previous year. After one year, 50% of the patients were still carriers of intestinal bacteria, after three years, 15% of the patients were still carriers.

‘There is a great chance of carrying these resistant bacteria with you if you have been hospitalised, for example, in India,’ said Arnfinn Sundsfjord, a section chief at the National Competence Service for the Detection of Antibiotic Resistance, who is one of the researchers who worked on the study.

One reason may be that many countries are far less strict about using antibiotics than Norway. In Europe, and the United States, a total of 60,000 people die annually because bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics continue to multiply despite being exposed to the medications.

Patients who have been detected for antibiotic resistant bacteria must be treated with additional infection protection every time they come to hospital for several years in the future.

They must ensure that they don’t contaminate others, they may have to be treated in isolation, and must be specially treated so that the doctors are enabled to destroy the resistant bacteria.

© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today