Source Of A Superbug?

July 6, 2011

What happens when healthy animals are given antibiotics.

It’s not a secret that overusing antibiotics is what is speeding us toward complete antibiotics resistance in superbugs, but new research is now suggesting the extent of the impact using antibiotics for purposes like raising animals has had.

E. coli, a bacteria that comes from fecal matter contamination, is one of many drug resistant bacteria (in fact, the e. coli you can catch in hospitals has few treatments left). Now, scientists are drug resistant bacteria in chickens, and in humans.

Turns out, the genes that make e. coli (the only one tested by the recent paper) antibiotic resistant may have developed in chickens!


How? Animals are often fed antibiotics as a preventative measure, in theory it saves ranchers money in lost sick animals. Why are they so sure it came from animals (and not vice versa?) The study was conducted in the Netherlands, where antibiotic use is controlled, except for use on animals. While they have one of the lower rates of antibiotic resistance of any country, their animals face a different story. They can more piece the circumstantial evidence into a conclusion, since there are fewer alternatives.

While most people won’t be surprised at these results ( it’s not new to blame feeding healthy animals for antibiotic resistance and superbug creation), it might help to effect policy changes that slow superbug growth.

Short of a miraculous development, antibiotics have maybe a decade left. Maybe more.

What does your family do to fight antibiotic resistance?

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: