Antibiotic-resistant pathogens are on the rise worldwide
Antibiotics are used in large quantities worldwide. It is therefore not surprising that more and more bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics. This could lead to major problems, particularly in the keeping of farm animals, because the pathogens causing diseases in such animals are also becoming increasingly resistant to the medicinal products. When such resistant bacteria encounter humans, they can become a deadly threat.
When livestock receives feed that contains antibiotics, many pathogens and bacteria can build up immunity to such drugs. Scientists from the University of Michigan have now found in an investigation that the continued use of antibiotics in agriculture contributes massively to the escalating problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The doctors published their results in the "mBio" journal.
Farm animals receive too much antibiotics
Farm animals often receive feed that contains antibiotics. This is to prevent the occurrence of diseases and increase growth, say the scientists. Pigs are particularly affected by this problem. Through the overuse of antibiotics there are more and more resistant bacteria. The scientists are now investigating pig farms in China and the USA for their study. In both cases, massively resistant pathogens were detected, the experts explain. In the fight against the rise in antibiotic resistance, we need to understand that using an antibiotic or an antibacterial disinfectant increases the amount of resistant bacteria, explains Professor James Tiedje of the University of Michigan.
Sources of antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains are very difficult to determine
Tracking the sources of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria is becoming increasingly difficult due to the widespread use of antibiotics. In addition, the ability of the bacteria to transmit resistant traits across generations makes it difficult to track and fight these pathogens, says Prof. Tiedje. The researchers acknowledge the need to use antibiotics in factory farming. However, this can also cause serious problems, the experts warn. If an illness breaks out on a farm close to a city, a large number of people may become ill. These diseases could then not be treated with antibiotics, adds Prof. Tiedje.
Multi-resistant bacterial strains are a deadly threat to all sufferers
When bacteria are given antibiotic treatments, some of the bacteria can survive, develop resistance, and then rapidly split and multiply. Thus, they pass on the resistance to the drug, the authors explain. This could result in a “super-resistant strain of pathogens that shows little or no reaction to antibiotic treatment,” warn the doctors. In America alone there are at least two million Americans who are infected with a drug-resistant bacterial strain every year. This results in around 23,000 deaths annually, the scientists explain. (as)