photo: Mike Rosenberg via flickr.
Chalk up yet another reason to oppose factory farming: BBC News reports that scientists from the University of Hong Kong have found evidence that overuse of antibiotics on farm animals is leading to an increase in antibiotic-resistant human urinary tract infections. Examining E. coli bacteria, which are responsible for about 80% of urinary tract infections, the researchers found an identical gene for antibiotic resistance in both humans and animals.
The gene, called aacC2, encodes resistance to a commonly-used antibiotic gentamicin and was found in approximately 80% of the 249 human and animal samples the team studied.
It's speculated that the resistant genes enter the human gut through the food chain, through direct contact with animals, or through contaminated water sources.
Problem Can Easily Become Global
Though the researchers concentrated their research just on Kong Kong, they pointed out that because of the international trade in meat, antibiotic resistance in one area can easily become a global problem.
Even if the source of the problem--keeping animals in unhealthy conditions and then having to give them all sorts of antibiotics to keep them remotely healthy--is stopped in one place, it can still be spread due to the global movement of goods and people.
The results of the research were published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology.