The continued increase in the use of antibiotics for livestock has significantly increased resistance to pathogenic bacteria, according to a study conducted in Princeton, ETH Zurich and the Free University of Brussels.
Researchers found that, especially in low- and middle-income countries, resistance to pathogenic bacteria in animals to antibiotics almost tripled between 2000 and 2018. We are talking about countries such as China, India, Brazil and Kenya, which the same researchers consider to be new points of crisis.
Researchers have collected data on more than a thousand studies or veterinary reports from around the world, creating a kind of map of bacterial resistance to antibiotics. These new, higher levels of resistance are particularly characteristic of bacteria such as Escherichia coli, Campylobacter, Salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus.
Resistance increases have been observed mainly in chickens, where antibiotic treatment has failed in more than half of the cases in 40% of the samples, and in pigs, where they have failed in about a third.
Researchers say this is also due to the fact that meat production has increased by more than 60% in Asia and Africa and more than 40% in South America since 2000. To date, 73% of the world’s antibiotic use is for meat production. Given that more than half of the world’s chickens and pigs are grown in Asia, this is certainly alarming.
Therefore, the increased resistance of bacteria to antibiotics in the livestock sector is more than alarming, especially in developing countries, as noted by the first author of the study, Thomas van Beckel, also noting the “explosive” growth in meat production and consumption in these regions. In most of these regions, access to veterinary antibiotics remains unregulated.
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