February 8, 2017 - Farm Animals Now Harbor Bacteria Resistant to a Last-Resort Antibiotic

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017 - The common and inappropriate overprescribing of antibiotics in livestock animals continues to affect the growing global health problem of drug resistance.

According to a new study published in the journal, Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, researchers have identified carbapenem-resistant bacteria growing in the environment of a pig farm. Carbapenem drugs were not used in the study farm.

Carbapenem drugs are last-line medications that treat severe infections. They are illegal for use in agriculture due to their importance as a treatment for people.

Thomas Wittum, chair of veterinary preventive medicine at Ohio State University, noted that the infection was probably introduced from the outside from movements of wildlife, people, equipment, etc. He also said that it’s possible that other legal antibiotics used on the farm could be contributing to the maintenance and spread of the bacteria, but more research needs to be done.

Since the original study, Wittum’s team has recovered the bacteria in both sows and piglets on the farm. He said, “We found no evidence that these organisms were entering the food supply, but that is the concern - that it could happen on this or other farms. We need more research to really understand that risk.”

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