Flies (Diptera: Muscidae) and the spread of antimicrobial resistant bacteria




It is now common knowledge that antimicrobial resistant bacteria can be transmitted via direct contact in health care facilities and the community setting. However, recent studies highlight the importance of alternative transmission routes, such as zoonotic spread or potential dissemination through environmental sources (water, food items). In this context, vector-borne transmission of antimicrobial resistance has rarely been investigated.

Completed project 

The spread of antimicrobial resistance through flies could be a challenge both in industrialized (e.g. livestock, production, global warming) and low-middle income countries (e.g. insufficient sanitary systems, immediate contact between humans and livestock). However, there is up to date very little evidence for a public health-relevant dimension of antimicrobial resistance and flies.

Our objectives are therefore (i) to conceptualise the role of flies in the transmission of antimicrobial resistant bacteria, (ii) to identify gaps of knowledge for future research agendas and (iii) to suggest feasible strategies of intervention in both high and low/middle income countries. Typically for a One Health approach, our topic is in the interface of the environment, animal and human health. Our interdisciplinary working group engages sectors and actors from various disciplines (i.e. veterinary medicine, medical microbiology, entomology and infectious disease, representatives from low and middle income countries).

Network partners

  • Frieder Schaumburg, University Hospital Münster, Germany (Coordinator)

This network includes 6 partners, please click on the following link to see complete network composition: Network composition Flies (Diptera: Muscidae) and the spread of antimicrobial resistant bacteria

‘Filth flies’ share their living environment both with humans and animals and can transmit pathogens between these groups. In our working group, consisting of microbiologist, infectious disease specialists, entomologists and veterinarians, we wanted to find out if flies can transmit antimicrobial resistant bacteria similar to enteric pathogens.

We systematically appraised all studies on this topic that have been published so far. The main results of our work that flies carry antimicrobial resistant bacteria, particularly in the livestock setting. The similar genetic background of bacteria from animals, humans and the environment suggest that flies could be effective vectors of antimicrobial resistance. However, it remains unclear to what extent flies are responsible for infections with antimicrobial resistant bacteria in humans and animals. We therefore suggest to develop further models of risk assessment and to scale up surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in flies.