People could be exposed to antibiotic-resistant bacteria from breathing the air from concentrated swine feeding facilities, according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. They detected bacteria resistant to at least two antibiotics in air samples collected from inside a large-scale swine operation in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. Until now, little research has been conducted regarding the presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the air within industrial swine facilities. The study adds to the understanding of various pathways in which humans can be exposed to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as consumption of retail pork products and contact with or ingestion of soil, surface water and groundwater near production operations. The article is published in the online edition of Environmental Health Perspectives.
“Eating retail pork products is not the only pathway of exposure for the transfer of antibiotic-resistant bacteria from swine to humans. Environmental pathways may be equally important,” said Amy Chapin, the study’s lead author and a doctoral candidate at the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences.
Chapin explained that the use of antibiotics in industrial animal production has a significant impact on the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that threaten human health. Using antibiotics in animals can decrease the effectiveness of the same antibiotics used to combat human infections. The non-therapeutic use of antimicrobials in livestock production in the United States comprises an estimated 60 to 80 percent of the total antimicrobial production nationally. Nontherapeutic doses of drugs are given to swine to promote growth and improve feed efficiency - not to treat actual swine disease.
Tim Parsons | EurekAlert!
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