Swine Manure Unlikely as Major Contributor to Antibiotic Resistance

CANADA - Research conducted by the University of Manitoba indicates swine manure is not to blame for the development of antimicrobial resistance in the environment, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 26 July 2007
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As part of a multidisiplinary research project near La Broquerie, in which hog manure is being evaluated as a fertilizer on pasture and hayland, scientists are monitoring microbial contamination of groundwater.

Dr. Denis Krause, a professor with the Departments of Animal Science and Medical Microbiology says researchers have tracked e. coli, as well as microbial communities rich in particular kinds of antibiotics from groundwater that potentially could be contributed by antibiotics used in the hog industry.

Dr. Denis Krause-University of Manitoba

In terms of the e. coli we find that e. coli from hog manure do not survive on pastures for very long periods of time at all.

We also find that e. coli that are spread from hog manure that have been spread on pasture typically do not find their way into cattle that are grazing the pasture.

We also find that there isn't a great deal of background antibiotic resistance in microorganisms in the groundwater.

The do not come from any digestive tract source.

That means that there's a huge amount of background antibiotic resistance in the environment and that's something that we've seen in the literature from other research groups that is in fact quite common.

I think it's very unfair of people to point a finger solely at the livestock industry to say that they are the major contributors.

There's a lot of other issues going on and there's a lot of other sources of microbial contamination in potable water sources other than just the livestock industry.

Dr. Krause suggests it would be extremely difficult to point the finger solely at the hog industry as a major contributor to antibiotic resistance, either in the environment or in human medicine, because there's already so much background antibiotic resistance, the result of antibiotic producing organisms that we typically find in soil.

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