Hong Kong, along with Japan and South Korea, has the world's highest rate of antibiotic-resistance to a deadly bacteria, a US expert warned yesterday. Professor Robert Baughman said more than seven out of 10 patients in Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea showed resistance to Methicillin, an antibiotic used to treat staphylococcus aureus. The bacteria commonly causes infections in hospital patients. Professor Baughman, of the department of internal medicine at the University of Cincinnati, was citing a recent international study published in May. He said the study found the occurrence of Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea was more than 70 per cent. Taiwan and Singapore have about 60 per cent resistance and Australia 23 per cent. In the US, Latin America and Europe, the rates are below 35 per cent. Professor Baughman, speaking at a Hong Kong medical conference yesterday, said SAR hospitals allowed patients to stay longer than their counterparts in the US and Europe so they took more of the antibiotic. 'You have such a good health service that takes care of the very ill patients and they are kept [in hospital] for a longer period of time. But inevitably you are going to see the resistance,' he said. Microbiologist Professor Margaret Ip of the Chinese University agreed, saying crowding in local hospitals could worsen the problem. 'However, MRSA is a global medical problem faced by all doctors, not a problem specific to Hong Kong. Also it is a very complicated issue that we cannot attribute the high resistance rate to one single factor.'