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E-M:/ Antibiotic-resistant genes traced from CAFOs to groundwater

Enviro-Mich message from "Anne Woiwode" <anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org>


The below press release highlights a very scary situation arising from
practices that are integral to the concentrated animal feeding operations
(CAFOs) or factory farms in Michigan and elsewhere in the country.  Next
time you or a loved one needs an antibiotic to fight an infection, ask
yourself if the Russian roulette we are playing with our medicines in order
to fatten up hogs faster is worth the risk.  Unfortunately, this is already
a matter of closing the barn door after the antibiotic resistent bacteria
are extant in the environment.

Anne Woiwode

Subject: Antibiotic-resistant genes traced from farms to groundwater
Date: Wed, May 2, 2001, 7:05 PM



Contact: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor b-james3@uiuc.edu
217-333-5802 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Antibiotic-resistant genes traced from farms to groundwater

CHAMPAIGN, Ill.  Genes resistant to tetracycline have been found in
groundwater as far as a sixth of a mile downstream from two swine facilities
that use antibiotics as growth promoters. The finding is significant in part
because it shows the potential for spreading resistance back into the food
chain of animals and people, researchers say

U.S. farmers for more than 50 years have used tetracycline and other
antibiotics to enhance the growth of livestock. In humans, an overuse of
antibiotics is blamed for a growing resistance to many antibiotics, and
agricultural use has been suspected in the spread of resistance genes

The European Union is phasing out such agricultural use; Sweden banned it in
the 1980s

Researchers from the University of Illinois and Illinois State Geological
Survey used a DNA-amplification technique (polymerase chain reaction or PCR)
to analyze samples from lagoons, wells and groundwater on and near two
Illinois facilities, said Rustam I. Aminov, a visiting professor of animal
sciences at the UI. Their research appeared in the April issue of Applied
and Environmental Microbiology. Aminov had reported his creation of primers
for use with PCR to detect resistance genes in the environment earlier this
year in the same journal. In the earlier paper, he also reported the
detection of resistance genes in livestock intestines and feces and in
commercial feed

"The use of tetracycline on farms is pushing the evolution of these genes,"
he said. "We found tetracycline resistance genes in soil and groundwater
bacteria. The genes are transferred to this type of bacteria, where they
can survive and travel long distances in the environment. It has been
suggested that there is horizontal transfer of antibiotic resistance genes,
but we had only seen it in laboratory experiments, not in in-situ studies

Here, we see such a transfer is occurring in the environment." The
researchers were able to identify the trail taken by the resistance genes.
The DNA fingerprints in the samples matched the resistance genes previously
identified in livestock and feed

"These genes were found to be predominant in the gastrointestinal tracts  of
pigs and steers," the authors wrote. "The elevated frequencies of these
genes in the environment surrounding the farms were consistent with the
hypothesis that this occurrence was the result of gene flow from the
animals." Once resistance genes make their way into drinking water, they
will find  their way into the guts of the people, animals and wildlife that
drink it, Aminov said. "We are potentially passing on resistance in a
continuous gene cycle in the environment," he said

The five-member research team consisted of Aminov and Roderick I. Mackie, a
professor of animal sciences; Natalie Garrigues-Jeanjean, a postdoctoral
researcher in veterinary pathobiology; J.C. Chee-Sanford, now with the USDA;
and Ivan J. Krapac of the State Geological Survey.

===== [related links:]


Appl Environ Microbiol 2001 Apr;67(4):1494-502

Occurrence and diversity of tetracycline resistance genes in lagoons and
groundwater underlying two swine production facilities.

Chee-Sanford JC, Aminov RI, Krapac IJ, Garrigues-Jeanjean N, Mackie RI.

Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,
Urbana, Illinois 61801.


Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics (Tufts University)


References are organized alphabetically according to the following

   Agricultural Animals
   Aquaculture (Fish)
   Animal Use and Human Health
   Antibiotic Policy
   Human Commensals
   Human Commensals, Resident Skin Flora
   Non-Agricultural Animals
   Resistance and resistance transfer mechanisms
   Soil and Water

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