Resistant germs due to antibiotic animal husbandry

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MRSA germ as a result of antibiotic use in animal husbandry

The use of antibiotics in animal breeding promotes the development of multi-resistant pathogens. An international team of researchers led by Lance Price from the Translational Genomic Research Institute in Flagstaff (USA) was able to prove that at least one strain of multidrug-resistant pathogens from the genus of staphylococci was caused by the careless use of antibiotics in animal breeding.

The scientists found that the strain of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which is widespread in both the United States and Europe, was caused by the improper use of antibiotics in animal husbandry. According to study leader Lance Price, "Staphylococcus thrives best where living things are crowded and live in poor hygienic conditions." If antibiotics are added under these circumstances, "the problem is programmed," says the US researcher in the specialist magazine " mBio ".

Researchers decode the development of the MRSA pathogen The researchers had examined the genome of 88 Staphylococcus aureus samples as part of their current study. The samples came from 19 countries on four continents and were taken not only by humans but also by farm animals such as pigs, turkeys and chickens. In this way, the relationship between the individual strains could be reconstructed and the researchers were also able to determine when and where the MRSA germs developed their resistance. Price and colleagues found that the so-called CC398 variant of the multi-resistant pathogen was transmitted from humans to farm animals and only then developed resistance to tetracyclines and methicillin, two important antibiotics. Subsequently, the pathogens of the MRSA strain jumped back from animals to humans, which due to the antibiotic resistance led to serious diseases that could hardly be treated and sometimes fatal, the researchers explained. In the meantime, the pathogens in Europe and the USA are relatively widespread and a growing risk for the population.

According to the scientists, it was striking that most of the infectious diseases with the special MRSA strain affected people who had regular contact with farm animals. So there was a suspicion of a connection. The researchers have now uncovered this by proving that the pathogens were first transmitted from humans to animals, where they developed resistance due to contact with antibiotics, and then jumped back onto humans. In other words, humans are to blame for the spread of dangerous multi-resistant germs.

Humans are to blame for the development of multidrug-resistant pathogens According to Paul Keim from Northern Arizona University, who was also involved in the study, the current results clearly demonstrate that "neither nature nor the bacteria" can be held responsible for the development of resistance . Just the careless handling of antibiotics in factory farming led to the development of the dangerous MRSA strain. The current studies on the development of resistance in staphylococci are only examples of the risk of antibiotics being used in animal husbandry. Because other bacteria could develop the same resistance to common antibiotics in human medicine in a similar way. The researchers also found the distribution of the CC398 variant of Staphylococcus aureus to be alarming. For example, the pathogens in the USA were found in 47 percent of the meat samples examined from the trade.

Massive criticism of the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry For years, the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry has been massively criticized by environmental protection associations, doctors, consumer and animal protection organizations. Official studies from the past year have shown that in the poultry industry (turkeys and chickens) around 90 percent of the animals receive antibiotics during rearing. The most recently published figures from Lower Saxony also show that 77 percent of the animals in fattening pigs received antibiotics, 80 percent in young fattening cattle and 100 percent in fattening calves. The critics assume that the fattening farms use the antibiotics not only to combat disease, but also to promote growth and thus shorten the duration of fattening, contrary to the applicable laws. In addition, the antibiotics are sometimes only administered for one to two days, which further promotes the formation of resistant pathogens. It can take a good six days for all pathogens to die from the antibiotics. If treatment is stopped sooner and some bacteria survive contact with the antibiotic, this promotes the development of resistance. (fp)

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Picture: Dr. Karl Herrmann /

Author and source information

Video: Mayo Clinic Minute: Antibiotics in Animals


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