Forty years after it first made the attempt, the U.S. government has instituted controls on some antibiotics used in meat animals to prevent the emergence of resistant bacteria that threaten human health.
New data on antibiotic resistance in agriculture, released Friday by agencies of the European Union, demonstrate how complicated it is to control all the uses of antibiotics on farms and to prevent all the side effects of antibiotic use.
A patient treated at a New Jersey hospital carried a strain of E. coli bacteria that is resistant to colistin and carbapenem, two antibiotics that are administered as last-resort drugs against disease and infection. It was the first time that a resistance to two last-ditch antibiotics was found in the United States, and the detection "means there's likely more out there," says medical news site Stat.
Government scientists found the MCR-1 gene, which allows bacteria to overcome the last-resort antibiotics used against disease in humans, in a sample taken from a different pig than the first U.S. discovery, said a CDC official. The initial case, reported on the same day as discovery of a Pennsylvania woman with an infection that carried the MCR-1 gene, raised fears of "superbug" bacteria resistant to a broad array of antimicrobials.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) wants to slash agricultural use of colistin, a last-ditch antibiotic in treatment of infection and disease in humans, by two-thirds, said Reuters. The regulatory agency issued its call at the same time the MCR-1 gene, which enables bacteria to resist colistin, was identified for the first time in the United States in a human and separately in a sample from a hog.