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All About Antimicrobial Resistant Bacteria

Posted in Our Blog on July 11, 2024

What in the world is antimicrobial resistant bacteria? Well today you have come to the right place to learn all about antimicrobial resistant bacteria. This is a new topic for me and I wanted to dive in and find out everything there was to know. I tend to dig in deep when I want to know more about something and hope that our readers will find something interesting in this article.

Antimicrobial resistance occurs when microbes evolve mechanisms that protect them from the effects of antimicrobials. All classes of microbes can evolve resistance where the drugs are no longer effective.

It is a global public health concern because it can result in prolonged illness, disability and death, higher risks for medical procedures and increased cost of health care with longer stays and more intensive care required. Given its complexity and involvement in multiple sectors, AMR should be addressed by a comprehensive framework. This issue has been taken up by the General Assembly of the United Nations where countries reaffirmed their commitment to develop action plans on AMR based on the Global Action Plan on AMR developed by the WHO. One Health is an integrated approach aiming to achieve optimal and sustainable health outcomes for people, animals, and ecosystems. One Health is especially an effective approach when combatting zoonoses and AMR, where cross-sector collaboration is essential for effective control of this complex issue. The presence of AMR microorganisms in food could arise from contamination during farming or food production. While AMR microorganisms are more commonly found in food of animal origin, their presence in ready-to-eat (RTE) food is of particular concern due to the lack of heat treatment of the food to eliminate the microorganisms. The presence of ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae (ESBL-PE) in food has been already reported in many surveillance reports and carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) are also being detected in food according to some studies. Resistance to carbapenems (e.g. meropenem) is an emerging concern because infections caused by carbapenem-resistant organisms (CRO) typically require treatment with other last-line antibiotics.

Some of the bacteria that cause food poisoning are antimicrobial-resistant—meaning certain medicines do not kill the bacteria.  A person with a foodborne infection caused by antimicrobial-resistant bacteria will have similar symptoms to infections caused by the same type of bacteria that can be killed by antibiotics. Food poisoning symptoms can be mild to life-threatening. Most people with food poisoning do not need antibiotics to get better and clear the infection.

Antibiotic drugs save lives, but their use can contribute to the development of antimicrobial-resistant germs. Antimicrobial resistance spreads between people, animals, and the environment (for example, in water and soil). Stopping the development and spread of antimicrobial resistance is a key action to protect people, along with preventing infections and improving antibiotic use.

Animals, like people, carry germs in their guts. This includes antimicrobial-resistant germs, which can get in food in several ways:

When animals are slaughtered and processed for food, antimicrobial-resistant germs can contaminate meat or other animal products, for example, by spreading from contaminated processing equipment or storage bins.

Animal feces/excrement (poop) can contain resistant germs and get into the surrounding environment.

Fruits and vegetables can get contaminated through contact with soil, water, or fertilizer that contains animal feces/excrement.

People can get intestinal infections, including antimicrobial-resistant infections, by handling or eating contaminated food, or coming in contact with untreated or uncomposted animal poop. People can come in contact with animal poop either through direct contact with animals and animal environments or through contaminated drinking or swimming water. Infections can also spread between people.

In recent years, CDC has investigated many multistate outbreaks caused by antimicrobial-resistant germs. These outbreaks have been linked to contaminated food and contact with food animals, pets, and pet food, and treats.

What is being done about this antimicrobial resistant bacteria?

  • Tracking antimicrobial resistant infections and studying the spread of such infections.
  • Detecting outbreaks quickly and identifying the source to stop spread.
  • Determining the source.
  • Strengthening education for local and state agencies.
  • Educating the public especially food workers on prevention methods including safe food handling, safe contact with animals and proper handwashing techniques.
  • Ensuring veterinarians, livestock and poultry producers, and other animal industries such as aquaculture have tools, information, and training around the appropriate use of antibiotic and antifungal drugs.
  • Supporting the important work that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture are doing to improve antibiotic and antifungal drug use in veterinary medicine and agriculture.

To follow more food safety and trending topics be sure to bookmark Make Food Safe for a quick visit. Articles are added daily.

By: Samantha Cooper