Join Superbugs Study

Are you a Swiss citizen living abroad?

We are organizing a survey to study the presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria ("superbugs") in your intestinal tract. The volunteers do not assume any cost.

If you are interested, please read more below.



Background: Enterobacterales are an order of Gram-negative bacteria that are frequently responsible for infections in humans. For instance, Escherichia coli is the most frequent pathogen causing urinary tract and bloodstream infections. Usually, antibiotic treatment of such infections is easy and guarantees a complete resolution of the infection. However, over the past 20 years, we have seen a dramatic increase in bacteria resistant to commonly used antibiotics. Therefore, these pathogens are defined as “multidrug-resistant Enterobacterales (MDR-Ent)” or simply named "superbugs".

Superbugs can be found in the intestinal tract of healthy people . Notably, this colonization is not harmful and does not mean you have an infection, but it can contribute to the spread and transmission of MDR-Ent. Unfortunately, it is not clear how healthy people acquire such bacteria. Few surveys have explored lifestyle factors (e.g., diet) and behaviors (e.g., living in other countries) associated with intestinal colonization.

Goal of the project: Our aim is to investigate the proportion of Swiss people living abroad ("Swiss Expatriates") who are colonized with MDR-Ent in their gastrointestinal tract. We also aim to characterize the molecular patterns of the identified bacteria and the risk factors linked to the acquisition of these superbugs.

Selection of participants: Volunteers can participate in the study if they 1) live in a country outside of Switzerland, 2) are ≥18 years old, and 3) are Swiss citizens. If you are a relative/partner of a Swiss expatriate living in her/his household, you are also welcome to participate. However, the study requires volunteers to have lived at least 3 months in the foreign country.

Compensation and Costs: No compensation or payments will be given to volunteers. No costs will be charged to your health insurance or directly to you.

Study procedures: Volunteers will have to fill out a consent form and an epidemiological questionnaire along with the donation of their stools.

To do so, a study kit containing instructions, consent, and stool containers will be shipped to the Swiss address where volunteers return for vacation. After a few days, volunteers can send the signed consent and containers with feces back to the Institute for Infectious Diseases (IFIK) in Bern, Switzerland. This is done via standard Swiss post using pre-paid letters and envelops that will be available in the kit.

Volunteers will fill out online the epidemiological questionnaire after received from IFIK an email containing a specific and secured link.

More information: If you want to see examples of instructions, consent, and questionnaire in the English versions, please click here.

Results: Volunteers will be informed of their stool analysis via their own email address, if they wish.

Confidentiality of data and stool samples: Project data will be handled with the utmost discretion and will be accessible only to authorized personnel who require the data to fulfil their duties within the scope of the research project. Data and stool samples will be stored in databanks and biobanks at the campus of the University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland, for research purposes only.

Funding of the project: Project-related costs will be completely covered by the primary investigators and their affiliated institutions. This project is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (Grant No. 32003B_184726;


Do you wish to join to the Superbugs Study?

If yes, we need some information to send the kits to your Swiss address where you will spend holidays. Therefore, please click here to proceed.