Carbapenem-Resistant Acinetobacter baumannii and Enterobacteriaceae in South and Southeast Asia

Document Type



Pathology and Laboratory Medicine


Summary: 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.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Clinical Microbiology Reviews