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  • Fecal bacteria is often more resistant than other bacteria.

    Fecal bacteria is often more resistant than other bacteria. | Photo: Reuters File

Published 11 January 2019

The scientists discovered a virus - crAssphage - that is specifically related to bacteria in human feces, which indicates a direct correlation to the presence of antibiotic resistance.

Fecal bacteria is likely responsible for high instances of antibiotic-resistant genes that have been found in the environment, a study published in Nature Communications reveals.

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“These findings are important as they can inform management of human health risks associated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the environment. While antibiotic residues is clearly the cause for the exceptionally high levels of resistance found near some manufacturing sites, fecal pollution is probably the explanation in most other places,” Joakim Larsson, study co-author and a University of Gothenburg environmental pharmacology professor, said.

The scientists discovered a virus - crAssphage - that is specifically related to bacteria in human feces, which indicates a direct correlation to the high presence of antibiotic resistance in environmental samples collected.

“The study indicates the importance of taking into account the level of fecal pollution when interpreting findings of antibiotic resistance in the environment. It implicates that one often do not need to explain such findings by on-site selection from residual antibiotics,” Larsson further explained.

Though fecal bacteria is often more resistant than other bacteria, high resistance genes are very common in overall antibiotics pollution from manufacturing industries.

“Other findings still suggest that low, environmental levels of certain antibiotics could select for resistance,” the professor added.

A recent study by World Animal Protection (WAP) found that pork products sold in Brazil contained antibiotic-resistant bacteria, pointing to a possible overuse of medicines in livestock food.


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