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Antibiotic Resistance in Animal Bacteria and Its Transmission to Clinical Bacteria


There is a strong belief that the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry, and its subsequent selection of antibiotic resistant bacteria, has a significant responsibility for the rapid increase in antibiotic resistance in clinical bacteria. In this country, the main resistance problems are in hospitalised patients caused by bacteria that largely spread clonally. It seems unlikely that resistance in these bacteria is being fuelled by resistance in animal strains. Most of the major problematic clinical bacteria are multiresistant variants of soil bacteria, which usually do not cause infection in farm animals; however they may be carried as commensal bacteria. <P>

The first aim of this project is to establish whether there is any significant link between these animal commensal bacteria and the human pathogens, indication of continuous infestation of clinical population. This will be investigated by molecular genotyping. For this to be a significant problem, we would expect to see a close link between these two populations. <P>The alternative method of infestation is by the spread of mobile genetic elements from animal bacteria into clinical strains. This will be examined by direct analysis of the resistance genes and their surrounding gentic material. In both cases, it is expected that the link will be at most very weak. <P>This result would have a significant impact in our perception of antibiotic usage; it would concentrate the minds of the clinical prescribers to the risk of antibiotic usage in human medicine and would stem some of the criticism that is rampant about the effects of veterinary use; it should also prevent some of the unnecessary banning of antibiotics in key areas of animal disease control

University of Edinburgh
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