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The University of Southampton
Global Network for Anti-Microbial Resistance and Infection Prevention

Are surfers at risk from antibiotic resistance bacteria in coastal waters?

Published: 12 April 2015

Microbiologist, Dr William Gaze and his co-researchers at Exeter University have found a significant risk.

The study shows, among other things that people's risk of exposure to resistant bacteria is closely related to water quality at any given beach. 

Antibiotic resistant bacterial infections pose a serious threat to human health and the study’s authors are currently working to investigate the link between recreational exposure in the sea, colonisation in the body and infection. Senior Medical Professionals, including the government’s chief medical officer for England, list resistance to antibiotics as a significant threat to the nation and should be ranked alongside terrorism. The scientists hope their findings will increase the understanding of the potential health risks water users face. Anne Leonard, one of the study’s co-authors,said:

“Although this research has established that coastal waters are a potential source of exposure to antibiotic resistant bacteria, we’re not recommending that people stop visiting the beach. Exercise and enjoyment of the natural environment has many established benefits for health and wellbeing, and this kind of research will help us ensure people can still make the most our coastal resources.”

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Notes for editors

NAMRIP is funded by the University of Southampton and benefits hugely from £868,704.00 of funding from EPSRC's Network for Antimicrobial Action 'Bridging the Gap' call [EP/MO27260/1]. The MRC has also invested in NAMRIP, with one project already announced.

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