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Sewage Samples Used to Confirm Patterns of Antimicrobial Resistance


In a study organized by the Technical University of Denmark sewage samples from 79 sites in 60 nations were assayed to determine patterns of antimicrobial resistance. Samples were collected by volunteers and were analyzed in Denmark for genes coding for antimicrobial resistance.

Samples from Australia, New Zealand, North America and Western Europe had generally lower levels of antimicrobial resistance. In contrast samples from Asia, Africa and Latin America had higher levels.

The report of the study contained in the March 18th edition of Chemical and Engineering News a weekly periodical circulated by the American Chemical Society quoted the conclusions of the researchers that the most effective strategy to combat antibiotic resistance is to improve sanitary conditions.

Would it not seem logical that misuse of antibiotics especially in the treatment of humans is the driver of antibiotic resistance? The researchers appear to have got the cart before the horse with their surveillance project. Accordingly greater controls over use of antibiotics in both human medicine and livestock production should be adopted. The presence of bacteria carrying genes for antibiotic resistance is an end point in the process. Restricting antibiotics worldwide to the standards imposed in industrialized nations is imperative to suppress the emergence of drug-resistance leading to what the media refer to as "superbugs"