SUNDAY, JUNE 24, 2018

Studying wildlife may help understanding of human antibiotic resistance

Studying wildlife may help understanding of human antibiotic resistance
Studying wildlife may help understanding of human antibiotic resistance | Courtesy of
A team of scientists from Virginia Tech recently reported that studying the lifestyle differences between wildlife species may help researchers better understand how antibiotic resistance works and spreads.

The worldwide emergence and ongoing spread of antibiotic resistance is a dangerous health threat to humans and animals alike.

The researchers studied wildlife, humans and domestic animals and their development of antibiotic resistance to treatments for Escherichia coli (a common intestinal bacteria) located within northern Botswana’s Chobe district.

The scientists took 150 wildlife fecal samples. Of these samples, 41 percent had E. coli isolates that resisted a minimum of one or two of the 10 antibiotics used in the test. Thirteen percent of the samples showed resistance to three or more of the treatments. Fecal samples from human, clinical, wildlife and environmental samples showed similar resistance.

"Surface water is a critical shared resource for humans and animals, particularly in dry regions of the world such as Botswana," Sarah Jobbins, former postdoctoral associate in wildlife now studying veterinary medicine at the University of Sydney, said. "It can also act as a powerful exposure medium for the introduction of resistance into populations never previously exposed to antibiotics."

This discovery could help researchers develop better waters for controlling and monitoring antibiotic resistance.

"Resistance may accumulate up the food chain," Jobbins said, "Making apex predators such as crocodile, leopard and hyena important ecosystem sentinels."

Further details are available online in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases.

More than 30,000 students attend Virginia Tech and study in its 215 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The current president is Charles W. Steger. The main campus is at 210 Burruss Hall, in Blacksburg, a town of 41,700 residents.

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