Sunday, June 20, 2010

Antibiotic resistance in equine faeces

Horses can be a source of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, presenting a threat to human health, according to a recent study.

Mohamed Ahmed, of the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Parasitology, at Al Fatah, University, Tripoli, Libya, working with colleagues at the Liverpool Vet School, examined fecal samples collected from the University’s equine hospital and from livery yards.

They found antibiotic resistant E. coli in faeces from both locations. From a total of 264 samples, 296 isolates of antibiotic-resistant Escherichia coli were identified.

Not only were hospitalised horses more likely to have antibiotic resistant E. coli in their faeces, they were also more likely than those maintained on livery yards to carry organisms that were resistant to multiple drugs.

Nearly half (48%) of the resistant isolates from the hospital environment showed multiple drug resistance phenotypes, compared with only 12% from the livery yards.

The researchers conclude that, in the UK, horses may provide both recipients, and sources, of antibiotic resistance, MDR, and be an extensive reservoir of antimicrobial resistance genes that could pose a potential threat to human health.

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