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Sewers for Superbug Surveillance

44 months
Approved budget:
Associate Professor Siouxsie Wiles
Dr Sam Trowsdale
Professor Cristin Print
Dr Joshua Freeman
Health issue:
Infectious disease
Proposal type:
Explorer Grant
Lay summary
Antibiotic-resistant superbugs pose a serious threat to human health. Within a decade, many routine medical procedures and treatments could become life-threateningly risky. Some resistant organisms can be passed unknowingly between healthy people and may be more widespread than previously thought. Currently, we monitor these resistant bacteria by analysing samples collected by hospital and community laboratories. The obvious drawback of this system is that it only captures information about the bacteria carried by people presenting to hospitals or community healthcare providers. What about the resistant bacteria being carried by people with no symptoms? Can we hope to understand their prevalence without routinely swabbing healthy people? This project will use state-of-the-art sequencing technology to quantify and map antibiotic-resistant bacteria and resistance genes in sewer samples. This novel approach will revolutionise our understanding of what resistance genes and resistant bacteria are present in Aotearoa New Zealand and how they spread through our cities.