Infections involving antibiotic-resistant forms of the E coli bacteria could become more common in the community in the "near future", medical researchers have warned.
The Canadian researchers compared the situation with the recent increase in cases of community-acquired MRSA (C-MRSA), where healthy people become infected with the superbug without having been in hospital.
They have called for extra funding to track the worldwide spread of resistant forms of E coli in hospitals and the community.
It comes after their study, reported in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, uncovered a number of surveys since 2000, from countries including the UK, showing a trend of E coli developing resistance to antibodies.
Escherichia coli, or E coli, is a very common bacteria found in the human gut, which is normally harmless.
But some strains - including the potentially lethal E coli O157 associated with several food poisoning scandals - can cause diseases in humans.