Airport door handles can aid spread of superbugs around the globe

International travelers can acquire antibiotic-resistant bacteria and then spread the superbugs to other travelers via surfaces in airports, according to a study published in Clinical Microbiology and Infection.

Members of a research group traveled internationally and swabbed the surface of an internal airport toilet door while on their trips. All total, the group swabbed 400 toilet door handles from 136 airports in 59 countries between December 2012 and November 2015.

The most commonly found bacteria were Staphylococcus aureus (5.5 percent) as well as Stenotrophomonas maltophilia (2 percent), Acinetobacter baumannii (1.3 percent). Other bacteria isolated from the samples were mostly enterococci and other germs that are common signs of fecal contamination.

Some of the samples showed resistance to antibiotics. For instance, nine of the 21 S. aureus samples showed resistance to penicillin, two showed resistance to erythromycin/clindamycin and one showed resistance to levofloxcin.

One of the S. aureus strains showed multiple resistance to antibiotics, and was therefore classified as MRSA. The MRSA strain was found in a Paris airport.

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