The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

A joint venture between The University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital


05 Aug 2019

Is Australia really ready for antimicrobial resistance?

Leading antimicrobial resistance (AMR) researchers have called for collaborative systems to combat the rising challenge of AMR in health care facilities and the community.

University of Melbourne Associate Professor Deborah Williamson, Deputy Director of the Microbiological Diagnostic Unit Public Health Laboratory at the Doherty Institute, and colleagues have published in the Medical Journal of Australia assessing the major emerging AMR threats to Australia, with a focus on highly resistant pathogens not yet endemic in our health care and community settings.

“There is currently no national system for rapid, real-time sharing and analysis of AMR-related genomic and epidemiological data across Australia, the ability is there but it needs to be implemented,” Associate Professor Williamson said.

“If we don’t mount an appropriate response to AMR, we face a situation where common bacterial infections, like in the 1800s, may become untreatable, and the vulnerable in society will succumb to infection.”

Associate Professor Williamson said internationally systems are being put in place, using real-time genomic surveillance to effectively prevent, detect and treat AMR pathogens, and it’s critical Australia does the same.

“Most Australians enjoy a high level of health care but we live in constant fear of AMR, both in Australia and in neighbouring countries. And in this era of a global interconnectedness, the threat is even greater with AMR pathogens easily carried by unsuspecting travellers,” she said.

“Failure to act now will threaten the health and well-being of generations to come.”

The MJA article was written in collaboration with University of Melbourne Professor Benjamin Howden, Director of the Microbiological Diagnostic Unit Public Health Laboratory at the Doherty Institute and Professor David Patterson, Director of the University of Queensland’s Centre for Clinical Medicine.

Major emerging AMR threats in health care facilities:

  • Carbapenem-resistant pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumanii
  • Vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
  • Carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae
  • Candida auris

Major emerging AMR threats in the community:

  • Cephalosporin-resistant non-typhoidal Salmonella enterica 
  • Cephalosporin-resistant S. enterica serovar Typhi
  • Ceftriaxone-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae 
  • Multidrug-resistant Shigella spp.
  • Extensively drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis