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Animal resistance to antimicrobials is on the rise


23 September 2019

The rising use of antimicrobials is posing serious challenges for the health of livestock, and humans.

Muriel Cozier

The large-scale use of antimicrobials, which has allowed the development of intensive animal production, has also led to an increase in appearance of antimicrobial-resistant infectious diseases in animals. These diseases do occasionally make the jump to humans.

Thomas Van Boeckel and colleagues from ETH Zurich, in Zurich, Switzerland, led a team of researchers from India, US and Belgium who have found that from 2000 to 2018 the proportion of pathogens that are also significantly resistant to antibiotics infecting farmyard chickens and pigs has increased. The team’s work also indicated that the development of drug resistant pathogens in developing countries was poorly documented. The findings are published in the journal Science.

Mapping the occurrence of drug resistant strains in populations of common indicator pathogens such as E.coli and Salmonella, the research team discovered a clear increase in the proportion of resistant pathogen strains in both chickens and pigs. Furthermore, the authors identified geographic hotspots of antimicrobial resistance, the largest being China and India, home to more than half the world’s chicken’s and pigs. Newly emerging hotspots in Brazil and Kenya were also noted.

The researchers concluded that regions affected by the highest levels of antimicrobial resistance should take immediate actions to preserve the efficacy of antimicrobials that are essential in human medicine, by restricting their use in animal production.

DOI: 10.1126/science.aww1944

Source URL: Science Mag Publisher AAAS the Science Society

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