IMED 20016, Vienna – some impressions

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Drawing together human and veterinary health specialists: This was the aim of the sixth International Meeting on Emerging Diseases and Surveillance (IMED 2016) in Vienna (4-7 November). One of the main focuses was lying on the growing resistance by pathogens. Some congress-impressions from Carola Timmel…

“We have to coexist with Antibiotic Resistance”, said Dr. Jacques Acar, Professor Emeritus from the Université Pierre et Marie Curie yesterday (Nov. 7th) during the Session AMR in the One Health Context.  The infectiologist who is also Senior expert at the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) got to the heart of the issue: It is less a matter of thinking how to eliminate the problem of AMR than to reflect how dealing with it. To what extent we are confronted with the issue, illustrated Dr. Ursula Theuretzbacher, microbiologist and leader of the Center for Anti-Infective Agents in Vienna: “Also in a country like Switzerland one meets this phenomenon”, said the microbiologist demonstrating a picture of the lake of Geneva, which is influenced by the hospital wastewater – at least as regards the hospital-side of the lake. “This picture exemplifies how omnipresent this problem is”, says Theuretzbacher. One can imagine the extent of water contamination in countries such as China. In this context she is mentioning also another, not well known phenomenon:  “Antiresistant genes can be found in considerable concentration also in the smog!” This shows the recently published study (Microbiome, October, 2016) of Dr. Chandan Pal (et al.) from the Centre for Antibiotic Resistance Research (CARe), University of Gothenburg, Sweden. The study identifies air and antibiotic-polluted environments as under-investigated transmission routes and reservoirs for antibiotic resistance. The high taxonomic and genetic diversity of external environments supports the hypothesis that these also form vast sources of unknown resistance genes, with potential to be transferred to pathogens in the future. Due to the complexity of AMR Theuretzbacher emphasises the importance of good and reliable data exchange.

Dr. Derrek MacFadden from the University Toronto, is dealing with exactly this issue. He developed the online-accessible platform Resistance Open, a web application for global antibiotic resistance monitoring. Resistance Open forms a “patch-work quilt,” as MacFadden calls it, of publicly available antibiotic resistance data. He believes that the traditional approach, in terms of “getting single-level isolates” and data across large areas – especially on a global scale – would be both slow and challenging to do. “It’s not that it shouldn’t be done,” he says, “and there are efforts underway to do just that, but I think that there’s a lot of useful information already available that we can put together, so we can start to get a better understanding of antibiotic resistance.”

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Carola Timmel

Carola Timmel is journalist for print and radio and professional speaker. Her focus lies on the topic Medicine & Health.

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