Fear, Then Skepticism, Over Antibiotic-Resistant Genes in Beijing Smog

Dec 4, 2016

By Didi Kirsten Tatlow

BEIJING — A report that Beijing’s already notorious smog contained bacteria with antibiotic-resistant genes spread through the city last week like pathogens in a pandemic disaster movie.

“Drug-resistant bacteria make people very afraid,” The Beijing Evening News said in an article reposted by Xinhua, the state news agency, after a scientific study by Swedish researchers drew interest during yet another flare-up of hazardous smog.

The study, published in October in the journal Microbiome, found antibiotic-resistant genetic material in the smog but no evidence of live bacteria capable of infecting anyone.

That did not make residents of Beijing feel much better, though.

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