July 19, 2018

Definitive Link Confirms Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Move from Livestock to People

A new study published in EMBO Molecular Medicine has established a definitive link between antibiotic-resistant bacteria in livestock and human beings. Several methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus auerus (MRSA) bacteria that carry a novel homologue have been found in livestock and in humans. The study states that “analysis revealed two distinct farm-specific clusters comprising isolates from the human case and their own livestock.” This supports the likelihood of zoonotic transmission, or transmission between people and animals.

Petri DishThis study confirms a study completed last year by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), which found that a strain of antibiotic-resistant MRSA developed that resistance in animals raised for food. That study stated that the bacteria starts in people as methicillin-susceptible S. aureus, it makes the jump to animals, where it becomes resistant to methicillin. Then the bacteria is passed back to humans. At this time, MRSA kills more Americans every year than HIV/AIDS.

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the only microbiologist in Congress, sent a letter to Dr. Margaret Hamburg, the Commissioner of the FDA, calling for action on this topic. Slaughter said in the letter, “this study ends any debate. The extreme overuse of antibiotics in livestock is endangering human health. For decades, the FDA has failed to act in the face of a growing threat. These findings make it clearer than ever that their failure is endangering human life. Starting today, the FDA must take strong federal action to reduce antibiotic use in livestock and protect human health.”

At this time, 80% of all antibiotics sold in this country are used in farm animals. They are most often fed to animals at sub-therapeutic doses to promote growth and to compensate for unsanitary and crowded living conditions. Slaughter is the author of the “Preservation of Antibiotics f0r Medical Treatment Act” ¬†or PAMTA, that is designed to stop the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms.

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