Scientists track how antibiotic restistant micorbes can hitch rides on the subway
Originally published on Newsweek.
Microbes live all around us. They thrive in our guts and propagate on our skin. They also ride the subway.
Some microbes can lead to illnesses like stomach bugs that are easily treated, but others are far worse. Antibiotic resistant bacteria are so resilient they can sometimes kill their human hosts. This is why one team of scientists at the University of Hong Kong wanted to better understand how dangerous pathogens travel through cities and move through populations.
The researchers studied the metro rail system in Hong Kong, the perfect Petri dish in wich to observe how microbes travel through an urban environment. They wanted to track the potential transmission of antibiotic resistant genes to reveal how urban design could influence microbial ecology and transmit disease. “With five million people riding the subway every day, the fingerprint of the whole city had to be there,” Gianni Panagiotou, a systems biologist at the Hans Knoell Institute in Germany and the University of Hong Kong, said in a press release.