Quirks & Quarks

Drug resistant "superbug" gene found on pig farm

Scientists worry that these drug-resistant bacteria could eventually enter the food chain.

Researchers from Ohio State University have made a troubling discovery at a pig farm in the United States. They found a bacteria that is resistant to an important class of antibiotics used — sparingly — in humans. 

These antibiotics, known as carbapenems, are considered a last resort against deadly, drug-resistant infections often found in hospitals. 

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So what does finding resistance to this class of antibiotics on a livestock farm mean?  And what impact could it have,  given that antibiotics are meeting more resistance in humans? Researcher Dr. Thomas Wittum discusses the implications of these findings. 

Are there antibiotic alternatives on the horizon? Dr. Lori Burrows from McMaster University talks to Bob McDonald about the critical research that's happening at university campuses.

Escherichia coli is a member of the Enterobacteriaceae family of bacteria and is found in the human gut. Researchers have found several species of bacteria, including E. coli, carrying a gene that confers resistance to a class of last-resort antibiotics on a pig farm. (Agricultural Research Service)

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