“Antibiotic-resistant typhoid is spreading across Africa and Asia and poses a major global health threat,” BBC News reports.
Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection. If left untreated, it can lead to potentially fatal complications, such as internal bleeding.
Uncommon in the UK (there were 33 confirmed UK cases in the first quarter of 2015 and it is thought most of these were contracted abroad), it is more widespread in countries where there is poor sanitation and hygiene.
The headline is based on a study that looked at the genetics of the bacteria that causes typhoid fever, Salmonella typhi, to trace their origins
The study analysed genetic data from almost 2,000 samples of Salmonella typhi collected between 1903 and 2013. It was looking for a strain called H58 that is often antibiotic-resistant. It found that this strain was likely to have originated in South Asia around the early 1990s, and has spread to other countries in Africa and Southeast Asia. It accounted for about 40% of samples collected each year. Over two-thirds of the H58 samples had genes that would allow them to be resistant to antibiotics.
It would be complacent to assume that this is just a problem for people in the developing world, as antibiotic resistance is a major threat facing human health worldwide. Studies such as this help researchers to identify and track how such bacteria spread. This may help them to use existing antibiotics more effectively, by identifying where specific types of resistance are common.