Patients in warmer climates face higher risk of drug-resistant infections

Research from Boston Children's Hospital and the University of Toronto in Canada revealed patients who live in warmer climates may face a greater risk of acquiring a drug-resistant infection, according to a study published in Nature Climate Change.

The study revealed a 10-degree Celsius increase in an area's daily minimum temperature was linked to a slight increase in resistance in several pathogens, such as those that turn into methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections.

The research stems from a large-scale data collection initiative to develop an online application to provide the locations of drug-resistant bacteria.

The website allows users to enter their postal code and determine which drug-resistant infections are in their community.

"For a physician, they can have a better understanding of what is happening in the community rather than just in their hospital," co-senior study author John Brownstein, PhD, told Scientific American.

This tool allowed the researchers to identify new patterns in drug resistance — including how climate affects drug resistance. To evaluate how different antibiotics work against bacterial infections, the research team looked at hospital records for clinical sensitivity test results, gathering data from 223 facilities in 41 states.

The team then evaluated the results of 22.8 million diagnostic tests, which represented 1.6 million bacterial strains. The study targeted three of the most common drug-resistant strains: Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus. The 10-degree C increase in temperature was linked to increases in antibiotic resistance of 4 percent, 2 percent and 3 percent for E. coliK. pneumoniae and S. aureus, respectively.

The researchers found a similarly significant effect after controlling for antibiotic prescription rate, population density and laboratory standards.

"Places in the South tend to show more resistance than places in the North, and a good chunk of that variability can be explained by temperature," Dr. Brownstein said.

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