ESBL, or antibiotic resistant bacteria, has been identified in pregnant women, children and the elderly in Finland.
Last year 1,079 cases were identified in the capital city region.
ESBL carriers may not necessarily have any symptoms, but infection can make it difficult to treat other complaints. The bug renders antibiotics ineffective, making commonplace illnesses such as urinary tract infections very difficult to treat.
Overexposure to antibiotics
Thailand and India manufacture a large share of the world’s medications and animals are also routinely treated with antibiotics. Antibiotic residue is known for its ability to stubbornly remain in the water supply.
"Water in Thailand has been found to have the same concentration of antibiotics as human blood samples during a course of antibiotic treatment,” says Doctor Mari Kanerva of Aurora Hospital. Overexposure to antibiotics is linked to the breeding of highly antibiotic resistant "superbugs".
Over 70 percent of the Thai population are carriers of ESBL. In India and China over half of the populace have the bug, which spreads through food and faecal matter.
ESBL is not just a pain for hospitals trying to prevent the spread from one patient to the other.
Five percent of pregnant women are carriers
"Five percent of healthy pregnant women are ESBL carriers," says Kanerva. "Although they may have no symptoms, pregnant women are always treated. ESBL can cause urinary tract infections and make it very difficult to find an appropriate remedy.”
The best remedy against germs is to wash hands before eating and cooking and to use boiled water to wash vegetables and fruit. However, nothing is a sure preventative, and travellers must always adapt to the new strains of bacteria present in different countries.
Those who have to seek medical care after a trip, for diarrhoea, for example, should remember to tell their doctor if they have been holidaying in Asia.