What are the main sources of resistant bacteria?
Among humans, human medicine is currently the main source of resistant bacteria. This has been acknowledged by the European Medicines Agency Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary
Use (CVMP) in its draft strategy on antimicrobials: “…the greatest driver of AMR in people is the use of antimicrobials in human medicine.” The UK Department of Health also says: “Increasing scientific evidence suggests that the clinical issues with antimicrobial resistance that we face in human medicine are primarily the result of antibiotic use in people, rather than the use of antibiotics in animals. Nevertheless, use of antibiotics in animals (which includes fish, birds, bees and reptiles) is an important factor contributing to the wider pool of resistance which may have long term consequences.” In farming, spread from other farm animals would be the main source of resistant bacteria. The cross-over between the two is very small at the moment, with recent studies confirming farm animal use could be responsible for as few as one in every 370 clinical cases of E coli infections. However, a risk does remain and people should always wash their hands thoroughly after contact with animals. Resistant bacteria can be found on meat, but good kitchen hygiene, washing hands after handling raw meat and thorough cooking of meat will almost completely prevent the transmission of antimicrobial resistance – or indeed bacteria in general – from meat to man.