CDC: Foodborne pathogens gaining resistance to antibiotics

Salmonella

Salmonella

A new study is showing the rate of antibiotic resistance in some types of Salmonella is increasing, with the rate of drug resistance more than doubling in one strain over a two-year period.

As stated in a recent article, each year the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System tracks changes in the antibiotic resistance of six common types of foodborne pathogens found in food-producing animals, retail meats and ill people. This year, investigators from the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) tested more than 5,000 foodborne bacteria in sick people and compared their findings to those from previous years.

The investigators found that multidrug resistance — non-responsiveness to three or more classes of antibiotics— in a common strain of Salmonella rose from 18% in 2011 to 46% in 2013. This strain of Salmonella has been linked to animal exposure and consumption of contaminated pork or beef and causes infected people to experience diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antibiotic-resistant infections from foodborne bacteria cause about 440,000 illnesses in the U.S. each year.

“Antibiotic resistance can arise spontaneously, but the greatest contribution to antibiotic resistance is the overuse and overprescribing of antibiotics,” Dr. Len Horovitz, an internist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said in the article. To curb drug-resistant infections, efforts are being made to reduce use of antibiotics in food-producing animals, he added.

Another foodborne pathogen monitored for drug resistance in this report is Campylobacter. Researchers found that one-quarter of all Campylobacter samples taken from sick people in 2013 were resistant to quinolone antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin.

These findings, however, are unsurprising to Dr. Horovitz who noted that resistant strains of bacteria have already been identified repeatedly in hospital settings. “This is just one more example of the genesis of antibiotic resistance,” he said.

In most cases, people with Salmonella or Campylobacter infections have diarrhea that ends within a week without antibiotic treatment. However, these germs can also cause infection of the bloodstream and other sites in the body. When this happens and antibiotics are ineffective, people are at a much greater risk for severe illness.

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