Antimicrobial resistance acquisition after international travel in U.S. travelers

Dana M. Blyth*, Katrin Mende, Ashley M. Maranich, Miriam L. Beckius, Kristie A. Harnisch, Crystal A. Rosemann, Wendy C. Zera, Clinton K. Murray, Kevin S. Akers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Prior studies have shown an increase in multidrug-resistant (MDR) E. coli colonization from two percent in U.S.-based to 11 % in deployed, healthy military personnel. It is unclear if colonization with MDR organisms occurs through deployment exposures or risks related to routine overseas travel. This study prospectively evaluates rates and risk factors associated with MDR gram-negative bacterial and methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) colonization after international travel. Methods: Participants traveled internationally for five or more days. Pre- and post-travel, colonizing bacteria from oropharyngeal, nares, groin, and peri-rectal (PR) areas were collected using BD CultureSwab™ MaxV(+). Identification and susceptibilities were done utilizing the BD Phoenix™ Automated Microbiology System. Non-MDR pre- and posttravel MDR bacteria within a subject were compared by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). A questionnaire solicited demographics and potential risk factors for MDR acquisition. Results: Of 58 participants, 41 % were male and median age was 64 years. Pre- and post-travel swabs were obtained a median of ten and seven days before and after travel, respectively. Itineraries included 18 participants traveling to the Caribbean and Central America, 17 to Asia, 16 to Africa, 5 to Europe, 4 to South and North America. Seventeen of 22 travelers used atovaquone/proguanil for malaria prophylaxis. The only MDR organism isolated was extended-spectrum ß-lactamase (ESBL)-producing E. coli in five (9 %) participants post-travel (all PR and unrelated by PFGE). There were no statistically significant associations between exposure risks and new ESBL-producing E.coli colonization. Of 36 participants colonized with E. coli pre- and post-travel, new resistance was detected: TMP/SMX in 42 % of isolates (p < 0.01), tetracycline in 44 % (p < 0.01), and ampicillin-sulbactam in 33 % (p = 0.09). No participants were colonized with MRSA pre- or post-travel. Conclusion: Consistent with prior studies, new antimicrobial resistance was noted in colonizing E. coli after international travel. Nine percent of participants acquired new strains of ESBL-producing E.coli without identified risks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4
JournalTropical Diseases, Travel Medicine and Vaccines
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae
  • Eschericia coli
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
  • Travel


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