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Wanted: Dutch poop being sought for scientific study

THE HAGUE: Three top Dutch medical schools are asking thousands of travelers to tropical countries to donate stool samples on return for a study into the rise in antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. The combined study, launched this week by the Academic (AMC), Erasmus and Maastricht medical centers will focus on 2,000 travelers mainly to Asia and Africa, said AMC researcher Jarne van Hattem.
“These travelers will be asked, upon vaccination by a number of travel clinics, if they would like to participate and send stools to us for a year after their return from the tropics,” Van Hattem told AFP. He said there has been a rise in antibiotic resistant intestinal bacterial infections in the Netherlands and researchers wanted to see whether these bacteria hitch a ride with travelers who pick them up in exotic destinations.
The team further want to study whether these bacteria are transmitted to non-traveling relatives upon return home to the Netherlands, known for its strict control of the use of antibiotics for fear of building up resistance. All volunteers will receive a home DIY-kit with swabs and a special plastic “safe bag” in which a swab sample will be sealed and placed in an envelope with a return address to Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam.
Participants are asked to send three to six samples over the course of a year, with researchers hoping to publish their findings about 30 months afterwards. Participants won’t go away empty handed though. “Those who send up their poop will be rewarded with a special Fokke & Sukke cartoon strip specially drawn for this study,” the AMC said in a press release.
Fokke & Sukke are two crudely drawn but hugely popular Dutch cartoon characters known for their politically incorrect views and often scatological sense of humor.
“Most people find anything to do with poop quite disgusting. So with this cartoon we hope to put a bit of humor back into the study,” Van Hattem said.