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Episode 2

Across the water: the spread of antimicrobial resistance

Superbugs develop their resistance to antibiotics by mixing and mingling with each other. Many superbugs travel on and in our bodies as we go back and forth overseas. But that isn’t the only way they move. In this episode we find out how superbugs spread in surprising ways and are found in the most remote locations. We find out why some countries are hotspots for resistance and what happens if you become infected with a superbug while travelling.

Episode 2: Across the water

In this episode


We heard from surfer Ian Cohen, who is also a climate change activist and speaker on environmental issues.

Dr Isabel Frost, who was working in India for the Centre for Disease Dynamics and Policy, and is now working as a consultant for the World Health Organisation (WHO). She’s also part of the Antimicrobial Resistance Fighter Coalition.

AMR activist David Mateo Ricci, who wrote this piece about his experience contracting a resistant infection in India.

Chennai-based infectious diseases specialist, Dr Abdul Ghafur, coordinator of the Chennai Declaration on antimicrobial resistance in developing countries.

Gomis Rugamba, a documentary photographer and visual artist born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, brought up in Rwanda and now living in Australia.


This episode was produced by Dr Britta Jorgensen and Sarah Mashman. Executive producer is Professor Mia Lindgren. Hosted by Dr Britta Jorgensen. Original music by Associate Professor Dan Golding. Additional music by Blue Dot Sessions. Mixing by Melissa May. Cover art and website design by the Swinburne Design Bureau.

Have a look at ResistanceMap, where you can see interactive world maps of antibiotic resistance by pathogen and antibiotic use by type in every country.

The study Dr Isabel Frost talks about is Global geographic trends in antimicrobial resistance: the role of international travel.

This article from 2019 in the New York Times about superbugs in India’s River Ganges, using powerful photography to capture this issue.

Read about the Beach Bums Survey on antibiotic resistant E. coli in the guts of surfers versus non-surfers here.

Find out why antibiotic resistance is a particularly big challenge in remote Indigenous communities in this article in The Conversation.