Pilgrimages can help us understand antibiotic resistance

The Hindu holy sites in the Indian cities of Rishikesh and Haridwar attract millions of pilgrims each year – but they are now the destination for another group of devotees.

Scientists trying to understand the rise of antibiotic resistance, considered by some to be the great health threat of our time, believe they could provide clues to the mechanisms behind its spread.

In an increasingly global society, travel can be pointed to as one of the reasons for the rise of antibiotic resistance.

Now an international team of researchers from Newcastle University and the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, is studying how large gatherings of people could become hotspots for the spread of the genes that cause resistance.

In order to do this, they needed to find a site that was free from pollution where they could study the effects of human activity.

Rishikesh and Haridwar – which became famous when the Beatles dropped in during the 1960s – provided the perfect case studies.

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