July 21, 2018

Report Addresses Challenges of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

The journal Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety has published a study called “Antimicrobial Resistance: Challenges and Perspectives.” The FDA has categorized antibiotics in order of importance and has identified trends in resistance among foodborne pathogens. The National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) in the United States tracks the development and persistence of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Food Poisoning BacteriaThe report finds that there have been increases in bacterial resistance to multiple drugs since 2006. That can delay the treatment of foodborne illness with potentially disastrous results. If a patient is treated with a drug for a foodborne illness, but the bacteria is resistant to the antibiotic, their symptoms will worsen while doctors try to find another medication. Furthermore, bacteria are developing co-resistance, through genetic linkage of multiple gene cassettes. Researchers say there is no scientific consensus on the action to take to fight this increasing problem.

Some success have occurred. The reduction of use of some antimicrobials in food animals has reduced the occurrence of ceftiofur-resistant Salmonella Heidelberg and E. coli on poultry. But the study states that there is little risk management information on imported foods, which make up an increasing market share in the United States. The authors hope that food safety authorities will have the ability to control risks by antibiotic resistant bacteria on imported foods due to the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CODEX), which established an ad hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance in 2007.

Critically important antimicrobials in human medicine include aminoglycosides, 3rd and 4th generation cephalosporins, macrolides, penicillins, and quinolones. Highly important antimicrobials include 1st and 2nd generation cephalosporins, sulfonamides, tetracyclines, and steroid antibacterials. Many of these drugs are the only choice to treat serious human diseases and should be restricted in agricultural use.

The study authors say that “keeping a focus on what is most important for protecting human health is a good first step. However, it is also important to move beyond simple classifications and examine instead what really impacts public health in terms of tangible and measurable outcomes.”

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