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Bacterial resistance to last resort antibiotics found on swine farm

Jan 31, 2017
Photo credit: United Soybean Board

Photo credit: United Soybean Board

Researchers from Ohio State University have discovered bacteria with resistance to antibiotics known as carbapenems—considered to be the last line of defense—on a U.S. swine farm. Researchers took samples from the operation four times over five months in 2015 to screen for carbapenem-resistant bacteria called Enterobacteriaceae (CRE). While carbapenems antibiotics are restricted for use in livestock operations, other antibiotics that work via mechanisms similar to that of carbapenem are allowed. One such antibiotic—ceftiofur—is commonly administered to piglets. Researchers believe that exposure to ceftiofur likely led to the proliferation of bacteria resistant to multiple antibiotics, including carbapenems. “While most people today do not have direct livestock exposure, enteric flora from livestock commonly contaminate fresh retail meat products that are distributed over wide geographic areas. Thus, if CRE are present in food animal populations, a large number of consumers may be exposed through the food chain, resulting in a critically important emerging food safety issue…. The implication of our finding is that there is a real risk that CRE may disseminate in food animal populations and eventually contaminate fresh retail meat products,” the researchers wrote.

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2 Responses to “Bacterial resistance to last resort antibiotics found on swine farm”

  1. L. Roberts says:

    The conditions that pigs are raised in is both inhumane for the pigs and dangerous for human consumption. Antibiotics are routinely needed due to the living situation these animals must live in.
    Consumers need to demand more humane and natural conditions for these animals. Any antibiotics, herbicides, or pesticides fed to them should be listed on the packaging. Consumers need to be willing to pay more for this. It will be within our grocery budget if we greatly reduce our meat consumption and consume more plant protein. We would also be a healthier nation.
    If the real cost of antibiotic resistance were factored into the cost of meat it would be extremely high. Instead the cost is absorbed (hidden) into the health care system.

  2. L. Roberts says:

    For an in depth and current review of the swine industry, read Barry Estabrook’s book Pig Tales: An Omnivores Quest for Sustainable Meat.