Skip to main content
ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Meat Safety and Quality » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #295772

Title: Bacterial antibiotic resistance, animal agriculture, and human health: no simple answer at the interface of three complex systems

item Schmidt, John

Submitted to: American Meat Science Association Conference Reciprocal Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/12/2013
Publication Date: 9/1/2013
Citation: Schmidt, J.W. 2013. Bacterial antibiotic resistance, animal agriculture, and human health: no simple answer at the interface of three complex systems. Proceedings of the American Meat Science Association Reciprocal 66th Annual Meat Conference, June 16-19, 2013, Auburn, Alabama, p.60-63.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Infectious disease is the second-leading cause of death worldwide and the third-leading cause of death in the United States (US) (Spellberg et al., 2008). The therapeutic use of antibiotics to treat bacterial infections is often cited as the most important medical innovation of the 20th century, and it has been estimated that the incidence of human premature death due to bacterial infection would be 40% higher if antibiotics did not exist (WHO, 2000). The increasing occurrence of antibiotic-resistant infections in humans, including infections caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), multidrug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis, multidrug-resistant gram-negative bacteria (Escherichia, Klebsiella, and Acinetobacter species), multidrug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae, cephalosporin-resistant Salmonella, and fluoroquinolone-resistant Campylobacter has lead many organizations (governmental, non-governmental, professional, medical, and scientific) to declare antibiotic resistance the most critical threat to public health (EASAC, 2007, Frieden, 2010, Davies, 2013, Spellberg et al., 2008, WHO, 2013) . The goals of these declarations are to call attention to and prevent a widely feared “return to the pre-antibiotic era in medicine.” Due to complex scientific, regulatory, and business factors, the introduction of novel classes of antibiotics for therapeutic use in the next 20 years is highly unlikely (Davies and Davies, 2010, Projan, 2003). Because the problem of antibiotic-resistant infections will not be solved by the introduction of “new antibiotics”, attention has been focused on preserving the effectiveness of existing antibiotics, monitoring antibiotic resistance, and understanding the complex processes that contribute to the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant infections.