Study Shows Antibiotic Resistance May Start in Soil

A study from researchers at Washington State University suggests resistance to cephalosporins - a class of antibiotics used to treat a variety of human infections - may develop in the soil. According to Doug Call - an author of the study - bacteria in the soil are basically eating the drug for breakfast. The study shows once exposed to cephalosporin - the stronger, drug resistant bacteria that survive easily colonize in animals. The findings suggest that preventing soil containing cephalosporin residues from coming into contact with animals before the bacteria develops resistance could prevent the spread of cephalosporin-resistant plasmas. This would mean the effectiveness of this class of drugs in human medicine could be preserved.

Call says the answer may lie in how waste is handled. He says it may be as simple as cleaning out the manure right away. Another possible solution might be to isolate sick animals from healthy ones - as cephalosporin is predominantly used to treat sick animals. But before the results of this study can be applied to curbing resistance among dangerous pathogens - Call says the next step is to replicate the results under field conditions. He fully expects the results would be duplicated in a farm setting. From there - he says it's important to find economical, cost-effective ways to control the problem. He says finding solutions like that will mean everybody wins. According to Call - you preserve selection, you preserve the ability to use these drugs and you hopefully don't cost producers much of anything. He says that's the kind of solution they're after.

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