World Animal Protection recently published an article which concludes that the environment around pig farms in 5 countries (Brazil, Thailand, USA, Spain and Canada) has genes that promote increased antibiotic resistance.
The report “Multidrug-resistant bacteria: in a river next to you” details the same situation in Brazil in the cities of Castro, Palotina and Toledo, in the state of Paraná, towards the end of last year.
Welfare of World Animal Protection veterinarian and coordinator Daniel Cruz explains that antimicrobial resistance has increased significantly. “We are aware of this global problem of bacterial resistance and the data presented in all the surveys confirm that this is a global phenomenon that deserves concern,” he says.
Responsible use of antibiotics
These identified antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) cause resistance to very common drugs used to treat important infectious diseases in humans. For the organization, the solution is to use antibiotics in production animals responsibly – for therapeutic purposes only.
Livestock: More than 60% of the antibiotics produced
According to the study, more than 60% of the antibiotics produced in the world are used in farm animals. “Excessive and indiscriminate use may accelerate the development of multidrug-resistant bacteria in animals and the environment,” the document states.
Risk for humans
Antibiotic resistance genes are the building blocks of multi-resistant bacteria. They create antimicrobial resistance, the recurrent resistance of bacteria to antibiotics important to people.
“It is alarming that some genes found in our research confirm resistance to antibiotics of importance to human health and, therefore, are of major concern not only to the World Health Organization, but to society as a whole,” says Jacqueline Mills, Global Chief of Agriculture of World Animal Protection.
ARG in water samples
Water samples, taken by researchers in Thailand, the United States, Canada and Spain, indicate that it is likely a release of ARG in pig slurry (manure and urine) created by intensive factory farming.
Proof of this is that the presence of ARG is higher in samples taken from downstream streams. In other words, the water after the pig farms is different from the upstream samples.
Spain: Research has found ARG levels 200 times higher than baseline values and these groundwaters provide water for humans in some areas.
Central Thailand: found bacteria resistant to third-generation cephalosporins, fluoroquinolones, or colistin, as well as cotrimoxazole, gentamicin, amikacin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, or amoxicillin.
United States: Researchers found ample evidence of ARG conferring resistance to tetracycline and streptomycin. Additionally, ARGs have also been found conferring resistance to macrolides, cephalosporins, fluoroquinolones, and possibly carbapenem antibiotics.
Canada: Research documents what World Animal Protection believes to be Manitoba’s first discovery of ARGs that confer resistance to cephalosporins, fluoroquinolones, macrolides and tetracycline. The results mirror similar findings elsewhere.