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Ground-breaking tool helps limit antimicrobial resistance spread across borders

Easy-to-use and freely accessible, the AMR Travel Tool developed by Ecraid's epidemiology network is the first of its kind in the world. The scientific work behind it was recently highlighted in a peer-reviewed study published in the Journal of Travel Medicine.


The past decades have seen an incredible rise in travel between countries and continents. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimates that internationally there were just 25 million tourist arrivals in 1950. By 2018, this number has increased to 1.4 billion international arrivals per year. This represents a 56-fold increase. 

Along with all the benefits this modern luxury has brought, come challenges, too. International travel is a known a risk factor that contributes to the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). This is concerning because AMR is a global public health issue that is limiting our ability to successfully treat infections. Scientists have been working hard on developing tools to monitor the spread of AMR at international, national and local levels, but the scope of the problem limits their success, particularly across borders. 

With this in mind, Ecraid’s epidemiology network, which originates in the COMBACTE-MAGNET EPI-Net project, developed an evidence-based educational tool that assists both international travellers and healthcare professionals in limiting the spread of AMR. The easy-to-use, annually updated, freely accessible AMR Travel Tool is the first of its kind. 

The Travellers-dedicated section helps medical tourists and other travellers that seek information on risks and prevention measures that can be adopted to avoid transmission of multidrug-resistant pathogens while travelling.  

The section aimed at Healthcare professionals can facilitate a stepwise assessment of the risk of the risk factors associated with travel and strengthen implementation of optimized infection control measures, improving the clinical management of travellers such as those who have been hospitalised abroad and helping avoid potential spread of AMR. It contains information on the proportion of AMR in invasive isolates worldwide, the prevalence of carriage of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in returning travellers, and screening measures recommended by national and international agencies. 

The scientific work behind the AMR Travel Tool was recently highlighted in a peer-reviewed study published in the Journal of Travel Medicine. The article describes the framework and the multi-step process carried out to build the tool. In its heart is a literature review on 12 critical antimicrobial-resistant bacteria (ARB) that allowed the development of a consultation scheme for the evaluation of risk factors, prevalence of carriage, proportion and recommendations for screening of AMR. For the public, pre-travel practical measures to minimize the risk of transmission were framed. 

Molecular biologist Fabiana Arieti, who leads the project, is hopeful that the tool will make a tangible contribution:

In the last years, we have become so aware of the interconnectivity of global populations. I really hope the AMR travel tool can facilitate and support wise and sustainable travelling and be a valuable and practical tool that people can easily use!” 

Up to January 2021, the database includes data on: AMR surveillance for 2.018.241 isolates from 86 countries; ARB prevalence of carriage from 11.679 international travellers; and 15 guidance documents published by major public health agencies. To ensure maximum value, it will be updated regularly.