Hog Waste and Rise in Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

Animals living in large numbers on factory farms are given large amounts of antibiotics to prevent spread of disease. This has been implicated in rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria that render common antibiotics ineffective when used in humans. I’ve written about this a number of times but not in recent years. It’s an important issue that has not gone away.

In a new study, researchers at the University of Illinois report that some genes found in hog waste lagoons are transferred — ‘like batons’ — from one bacterial species to another. And these bacteria with antibiotic genes were found in groundwater and wells.

See also: Factory Farms, Bird Flu and Global Warming

4 thoughts on “Hog Waste and Rise in Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

  1. The mechanism is called ‘horizontal genetic transfer’ and it has been studied for quite some time. I have a related story on my blog that may be of interest:

    The government is on track to approve a new antibiotic to treat a pneumonialike disease in cattle, despite warnings from health groups and a majority of the agency’s own expert advisers that the decision will be dangerous for people.

    The drug, cefquinome, belongs to a class of potent antibiotics that are among medicine’s last defense against several serious human infections. No drug from that class has been approved in the United States for use in animals….

    The American Medical Association and about 12 other health groups warned the Food and Drug Administration that giving cefquinome to animals probably would speed the emergence of microbes resistant to that important class of antibiotic, as has happened with other drugs. [emphasis added by EF] Those supermicrobes could then spread to people.

    http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/2007/03/04/stupid-question-but-at-least-my-cow-is-well/

    And several others on public health:

    http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/tag/public-health/

  2. yuck. i hate these stories. despite the advances we make with organic, slow food, clean food, smart living and all, there is so much stuff going on like this that makes me feel one step forward and two steps back.

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