A recent article in Applied and Environmental Microbiology illustrates the effect that conventional farming, which uses a lot of antibiotics, has on the evolution of antibiotic resistance. The authors examined the difference in the frequency of resistance to antibiotics in the human pathogen Campylobacter. Resistance in bacteria from conventional raised poultry (actually, the carcasses) was much higher than in organic, non-antibiotic intensive farming:
- for floroquinolones, which are commonly used in medicine (e.g., ciprofloxacin), less than two percent of isolates were resistant, compared to 46% and 67% of isolates from conventionally raised chicken and turkey, respectively.
- conventionally raised turkeys had very high levels of resistance to other antibiotics: erythromycin (80%-commonly used in non-emergency clinical practice), clindamycin (64%-commonly used in non-emergency clinical practice, including MRSA), kanamycin (76%), and ampicillin (31%).
- 81% of isolates from conventionally-raised turkeys were multidrug resistant.
- regardless of where they came from, most isolates were resistant to tetracycline (which isn’t surprising; nearly everything is resistant to tetracycline at this point).
Turkey: maybe it shouldn’t be what’s for dinner…
an aside: after looking at the NARMS data closely, I am never eating ground turkey. Ever.