How Resistant Pathogens Are Related to the Use of Antibiotics in Animals
What Are Pathogens?
Pathogens (infectious agents) are biological agents causing infections. The human body has lots of defenses protecting it against pathogens, including the immune system and good bacteria. The term “pathogen” implies bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Most pathogens live on account of their host, so they are parasites.
If a pathogen causes an infection, it should be treated with relevant medications. For instance, bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics; infections caused by fungi are eliminated with antifungals medicines, and viral infections are managed with antiviral agents.
Although lots of medications have been developed, pathogens still threaten human life. Also, today we face a pretty serious problem — pathogen resistance.
What Is Pathogen Resistance?
Infections caused by pathogens are treated with medications that are able to destroy them. Unfortunately, resistant pathogens have become a global problem, especially, antibiotic resistance, which allows bad bacteria to survive despite the use of antibacterial agents.
It is known today that bacteria are able to become resistant to antibiotics. It is just enough a few bacteria with genes allowing them to resist the effects of antibacterial agents so that a large population of bacteria could be restored again after being killed by medications.
Resistant bacteria are able to share their antibiotic-resistant genes with others, which makes it really difficult to prevent antibiotic resistance. The number of individuals that possess the resistant gene increases over the time, which will eventually lead to the occurrence of inflectional diseases that will be really hard to treat.
Recently, people have understood that such a massive use of antibiotics in animal significantly increases the risk of antibiotic resistance. The situation is so serious that it has been offered to regulate the use of antibiotics in animals on the government level. To be sure that the use of antibiotics is correct, the process will be controlled by veterinarians. They will try to decrease the use of antibacterial agents in animals to make sure that the medications are only used when it is really needed. Today, the antibiotics are often misused or overused, and the main goal of veterinarians is to prevent these cases.
The Use of Antibiotics in Animals and Its Impact on Antibiotic Resistance in Humans
The use of antibacterial agents in agriculture is really major, which contributes to the antibiotic resistance problem. Antibiotics are important for preventing and controlling disease in livestock. If they are used correctly, this will keep animals healthy.
In the USA, animals often receive low doses of antibiotics aiming at improving their overall health and gaining more weight, which is considered to be “subtherapeutic” use because the medications are not used for treating diseases.
Animals are hosts of different kinds of microbes, including, pathogenic bacteria, and the use of antibacterials medications for the grow leads to the occurrence of antibiotic resistance. The antibiotic-resistant bacteria may then cause various infections in humans who consume meats of these animals.
The following antibacterial agents are used in livestock:
• Procaine penicillin;
• Neomycin sulfate;
Since antibiotic resistance has become a real threat, it is important to reduce the consumption of antibacterial agents by animals.
How Antibiotic-Resistance Bacteria Are Transmitted to Humans
Many bacteria live in animals and humans, and lots of them are presented in the environment. Some of these bacteria may cause infections in humans. Pathogenic bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics can reach humans in different ways, including the following:
• Through food;
• Through environment;
• Through workplace.
Resistant bacteria can remain in raw meat that the consumers buy and consume. If this meat is not cooked well; if knives or cutting boards are not washed properly before being used, or if raw meat juices is splashed around the working place getting in other foods, antibacterial-resistant germs can occur in people who consume the food, or touch the household surfaces with the rest of the raw meat.
Foodborne diseases are not rare, and Salmonella causes infections in 1.4 million people annually. All bacterial infections are a problem, but especially those caused by resistant bacteria.
As for the environment, about 2 trillion pounds of animal wastes are produced in the USA every year, and there are lots of bacteria, including resistant ones. Often, those wastes are stored in not covered lagoons or spread on fields, allowing them to be available for humans. This is how animal wastes can occur in ground and surface waters. Also, having those wastes on agricultural fields allows resistant bacteria spread on fruits and vegetables, which can also be the way to transmitting pathogens to people.
Finally, workplaces are places when farm workers can get a bacterial infection caused by resistant germs. Naturally, they can pass the disease to other people that they get in touch with, including the members of their family, friends, coworkers, etc.