Antibiotics given to farm animals are becoming resistant to the drugs.
A new study just released says the amount of antibiotics used in feeding animals raised for food is a major factor driving the worldwide increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria, causing treatments to be less effective, according to a report on usnews.com.
Researchers at Michigan State University analyzed bacterial found at a large-sized swine farm in China and in a population of pigs in the United States, and found multi-drug resistant bacteria were present, and appeared to be commonplace.
Lead study author James Tiedje, professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at MSU, said, “In the fight against the rise of antibiotic resistance, we need to understand that the use of one antibiotic or, in some cases, antibacterial disinfectants may increase the abundance of multidrug-resistant bacteria.”
“Tracking the source of antibiotic resistance is quite complicated because antibiotic use, which increases the occurrence of resistance, is widespread, and antibiotic resistance can spread between bacteria,” continued Tiedje, in a press release from the university.
Antibiotics are used so extensively in food production, the bacteria they were initially intended to eliminate have evolved to develop a resistance to the treatments, and, by making the drugs less effective, causes producers to use increased amounts, compounding the issue.
In the case of the Chinese farms, they were located near populous city areas, so controlling the resistance to antibiotics in the pigs and subsequently the meat eaten be the people of the area, was of utmost importance to minimize the risk to the population.
But, Tiedje reminds, this was not a Chinese problem and a bacteria that was resistant to multi-drugs was “just a plane ride away.” He adds the work the team was doing was just as relevant in the United States as any other country in the world.
Information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows over two million Americans become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year, which results in at least 23,000 deaths from these infections.
Findings from the study were published in the journal mBio.