Plants may be transmitting superbugs to people

phys.org | 5/28/2019 | Staff
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Antibiotic-resistant infections are a threat to global public health, food safety and an economic burden. To prevent these infections, it is critical to understand how antibiotic-resistant bacteria and their genes are transmitted from both meat and plant-foods. Researchers have now shown how plant-foods serve as vehicles for transmitting antibiotic resistance to the gut microbiome. The research is presented at ASM Microbe, the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that of the 2 million antibiotic-resistant infections per year in the U.S., 20 percent are linked to agriculture. This estimate is based on patients who directly acquire antibiotic-resistant superbugs from eating meat. Little has been done to determine how eating plants contributes to the spread of antibiotic-resistant "superbugs."

Findings - Importance - Antibiotic-resistance - Food - Chain

"Our findings highlight the importance of tackling foodborne antibiotic-resistance from a complete food chain perspective that includes plant-foods in addition to meat," said Marlène Maeusli, Ph.D. candidate at Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, who is the lead author on the study.

Spread of antibiotic-resistant superbugs from plants to humans is different from outbreaks of diarrheal illnesses caused immediately after eating contaminated vegetables. Superbugs can asymptomatically hide in (or "colonize") the intestines for...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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