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Antibiotics Used In Food Animals Causes Antibiotic Resistance In People

The latest research study in Australia shows that less antibiotic used in food animals leads to less drug resistance in people. // Australia has adopted a policy of restricting antibiotic use in food-producing animals and this may be linked with lower levels of drug-resistant bacteria found in its citizens.

The bacteria Campylobacter jejuni is known to be one of the leading causes of food borne illness in industrialized countries. The drug resistance makes Campylobacter infections difficult for physicians to treat, and can result in longer bouts of diarrhoea and a higher risk of serious or even fatal illness. Bacterial resistance to drugs is generally attributed to inappropriate prescribing or overuse of antibiotics.

Australia has hence adopted a solution to the drug resistance problem that has been to prohibit the use of certain antibiotics, called fluoroquinolones, in food animals such as poultry. This policy has put Australia in a relatively unique position, as its animal and food production levels are comparable to those of other industrialized nations, but it has avoided using the antibiotics that have been standard in the other countries food animal production.

Australian researchers, planning to evaluate whether the results of the policy has affected the bacterial drug resistance, examined C. jejuni isolates collected from 585 patients in five Australian states. They made sure that none of the patients had received fluoroquinolone treatment within the month prior to becoming ill. The researchers discovered that only 2 percent of the locally acquired Campylobacter isolates were resistant to ciprofloxacin, a type of fluoroquinolone. Countries that allow fluoroquinolone use in animals may have a drug resistance prevalence of up to 29 percent. Ciprofloxacin can be used to treat severe Campylobacter disease, so a low level of bacterial drug resistance should lead to better treatment efficacy.

Lead author Leanne Unico
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