The role of ‘filth flies’ in the spread of antimicrobial resistance

Onwugamba, Francis C.; Fitzgerald, J. Ross; Rochon, Kateryn; Guardabassi, Luca; Alabi, Abraham; Kühne, Stefan GND; Grobusch, Martin P.; Schaumburg, Frieder

Background ‘Filth flies’ feed and develop in excrement and decaying matter and can transmit enteric pathogens to humans and animals, leading to colonization and infection. Considering these characteristics, ‘filth flies’ are potential vectors for the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). This review defines the role of flies in the spread of AMR and identifies knowledge gaps. Methods The literature search (original articles, reviews indexed for PubMed) was restricted to the English language. References of identified studies were screened for additional sources. Results ‘Filth flies’ are colonized with antimicrobial-resistant bacteria of clinical relevance. This includes extended spectrum beta-lactamase-, carbapenemase-producing and colistin-resistant (mcr-1 positive) bacteria. Resistant bacteria in flies often share the same genotypes with bacteria from humans and animals when their habitat overlap. The risk of transmission is most likely highest for enteric bacteria as they are shed in high concentration in excrements and are easily picked up by flies. ‘Filth flies’ can ‘bio-enhance’ the transmission of AMR as bacteria multiply in the digestive tract, mouthparts and regurgitation spots. Conclusion To better understand the medical importance of AMR in flies, quantitative risk assessment models should be refined and fed with additional data (e.g. vectorial capacity, colonization dose). This requires targeted ecological, epidemiological and in vivo experimental studies.

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Onwugamba, Francis / Fitzgerald, J. / Rochon, Kateryn / et al: The role of ‘filth flies’ in the spread of antimicrobial resistance. 2018.

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