Clouds are spreading antibiotic-resistant bacteria around the world, study finds

The spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is reaching new heights, quite literally. A first-of-its-kind study conducted by researchers from Quebec and France has revealed this kind of bacteria can spread through clouds.

In their study, scientists found antibiotic-resistant bacteria can travel up to thousands of kilometres, from one continent to another.

The team gathered their cloud samples on the Puy de Dome summit, a dormant volcano in central France standing 1465 metres above the ground.

Research was conducted over two years using a dozen clouds at identical altitudes. On average, there were around 8,000 bacteria per millilitre of cloud water with some containing as much as 30,000 bacteria.

Looking forward, researchers want to find out if antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be transferred to bacteria on the ground when it rains or snows.

The findings, published last month in the journal Science of the Total Environment, have raised concerns about the far-reaching consequences of antibiotic resistance and what can be done at ground level to mitigate it.

According to a report by the Council of Canadian Academies, in 2018 14,000 people in Canada died from resistant bacterial infections.

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