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Chapter 34 : Resistance in the Food Chain and in Bacteria from Animals: Relevance to Human Infections
Category: Bacterial Pathogenesis
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This chapter provides an overview of the antibiotic resistance situation in bacteria of both animal and food origin and analyzes whether these bacteria represent a greater threat to human health when they harbor antibiotic resistance genes. Monitoring systems that record the amount of antimicrobial agents used for humans and animals and carry out surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria from food-producing animals have been in place for some years in and are published annually in Denmark, Sweden , Norway, and the Netherlands. The bacteria used in food preparation are mainly gram-positive and include Lactococcus, Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, Leuconostoc, Carnobacterium, Enterococcus, Micrococcus, Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and Propionibacterium. Among them are Lactococcus and Lactobacillus, which are also the two most widely used genera of lactic acid bacteria in the dairy industry, and Enterococcus, which can be an opportunistic pathogen and has the ability to easily acquire and redistribute antibiotic resistance genes to other bacteria. The relationship between the human and animal isolates has yet to be elucidated, but the presence of sul3 genes in retail meat products strongly suggests that the food chain acts as link between food-producing animals and humans. As antibiotic resistant Campylobacter is widespread in food-producing animals, it has the potential to reach consumers via the food chain. To stop the cascade of multidrug resistance and its consequences for human health, adequate measures should be taken in all fields where antibiotics are used, including agriculture and veterinary and human medicine.