Carbapenem-resistant acinetobacter baumannii and enterobacteriaceae in South and Southeast Asia

Li Yang Hsu, Anucha Apisarnthanarak, Erum Khan, Nuntra Suwantarat, Abdul Ghafur, Paulanantharajah Tambyah

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

231 Citations (Scopus)


Carbapenem-resistant Gram-negative bacteria, in particular the Acinetobacter baumannii-calcoaceticus complex and Enterobacteriaceae, are escalating global public health threats. We review the epidemiology and prevalence of these carbapenem-resistant Gram-negative bacteria among countries in South and Southeast Asia, where the rates of resistance are some of the highest in the world. These countries house more than a third of the world’s population, and several are also major medical tourism destinations. There are significant data gaps, and the almost universal lack of comprehensive surveillance programs that include molecular epidemiologic testing has made it difficult to understand the origins and extent of the problem in depth. A complex combination of factors such as inappropriate prescription of antibiotics, overstretched health systems, and international travel (including the phenomenon of medical tourism) probably led to the rapid rise and spread of these bacteria in hospitals in South and Southeast Asia. In India, Pakistan, and Vietnam, carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae have also been found in the environment and community, likely as a consequence of poor environmental hygiene and sanitation. Considerable political will and effort, including from countries outside these regions, are vital in order to reduce the prevalence of such bacteria in South and Southeast Asia and prevent their global spread.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalClinical Microbiology Reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017


  • Acinetobacter
  • Carbapenem resistance
  • Carbapenems
  • Enterobacteriaceae
  • Gram-negative bacteria
  • Mcr-1
  • South Asia
  • Southeast Asia


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