Antibiotic use in poultry leads to resistance in humans
US researchers studying Virginiamycin use in poultry have determined that the
use of antibiotics as growth promotors increases the risk of human antibiotic
Virginiamycin is a streptogramin antibiotic that has long been used as a
growth promoter in US livestock, but is banned in Europe.
Dr Edward Belongia and colleagues, of the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, examined poultry
exposure to the drug as a risk factor for antibiotic resistance to Enterococcus faecium, a gut bacterium that's increasingly
becoming the cause of hospital infections.
The researchers' study suggests that the use of virginiamycin in poultry
leads to humans carrying more E. faecium that is resistant
to streptogramin, the antibiotic used to treat it.
The scientists isolated E. faecium in stool samples from 105 newly
hospitalised patients and 65 healthy vegetarians, as well as in 77 samples of
conventional retail poultry and 23 antibiotic-free poultry meat samples.
The report says that there are few options for treating E. facium
infections that are resistant to streptogramin, with quinupristin-dalfopristin
being one of few drugs that remain effective.
"With few new antimicrobials under development, a high priority should be
placed on assessing the human health impact of continued streptogramin use in
food animals and on developing evidence-based policies to prevent the emergence
of streptogramin-resistant infections in hospitals,â€ the report says.
study is available online in the November 1 issue of The Journal
of Infectious Diseases.
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