More than 18,000 hospitalized patients in Canada acquire multi-drug-resistant strains of bacteria each year. By 2050, it is predicted that these ‘superbugs’ will kill more people than cancer and cost the global economy trillions of dollars.
“I think we are underestimating the severe public health risk these antibiotic-resistant bacteria are going to cause,” says Dr. Andrew Cameron, assistant professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Regina. “For some pathogens we are in a post-antibiotic era, and routine surgeries such as caesarean sections are going to become dangerous.”
Although we have developed procedures for cleaning equipment and washing our hands to help prevent the spread of harmful bacteria, bacterial infections will continue to increase with the loss of effective antibiotics, growing and aging human populations, and eroding environmental quality. “The best mechanism to prevent infection is to block transmission, and to do this we need to identify sources and transmission routes of infectious bacteria,” says Cameron.
Dr. Cameron and collaborators, Dr. Jessica Minion and Dr. Meredith Faires from Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region, and Dr. David Alexander and Dr. Ryan McDonald from the Saskatchewan Disease Control Laboratory, were recently awarded a SHRF Collaborative Innovation Development grant to enhance our understanding of the sources and transmission routes of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
“Our project is designed specifically to increase provincial capacity to identify and track disease outbreaks, to develop better tools for this application, and to use the results to immediately and directly influence decision making around improving safety of healthcare and improving well-being in Saskatchewan communities.”
Read more about this vital research in the third edition of Research for Health.