Human antibiotic resistance studied in pigs
Pigs could be the key to understanding how antibiotic resistant bacteria
persist in Intensive Care Units in hospitals.
Dr Chin told the 2007 Australian Society for
Microbiology's annual conference in Adelaide in July that: "The current theory
of antibiotic resistance is that the 'fittest' bacteria, that is, those carrying
genes for resistance, are the most likely to survive. "Because antibiotic
treatment will never kill all bacteria, bad or good, there will always be a pool
of antibiotic resistance bacteria that can potentially transfer resistance to
incoming pathogens. "It is important to identify the antimicrobial resistant
gene pool in entire microbial communities before antibiotic treatment.
Using pigs as a model, Dr Chin and Dr Toni
Chapman at NSW Department of Primary Industries Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural
Institute (Australia) have examined how E. coli bacteria -- a common
cause of diarrhoea in pigs and humans -- respond to treatment by antibiotics.
"Our research shows clearly that use of one antibiotic to treat E. coli
not only increases resistance against that antibiotic but also increases the
carriage of resistance genes against other classes of antibiotics.
Dr Chin said for this reason it is
important to develop a molecular detection method that can identify antibiotic
resistance signatures of entire microbial communities. "Our hope is that this
kind of information will equip clinicians to better manage prescribing of
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