Pigs can transmit dangerous superbugs to humans, say scientists
C difficile is a reservoir of antimicrobial resistance genes that can be exchanged between animals and humans.
Scientists have discovered that dangerous superbug variants can be transmitted from pigs to people. The result adds to concerns that the widespread use of antibiotics on farms is causing the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The relationship was discovered by Copenhagen University's Semeh Bejaoui and Dorte Frees and Denmark's Statens Serum Institute's Soren Persson, focusing on the superbug Clostridioides difficile. That is regarded as one of the world's top antibiotic resistance problems.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (via USA Today), C. difficile caused more than 223,000 infections and 12,800 deaths in 2017.
Canadian research also claimed that more than 20,600 persons reported C. difficile infection in a healthcare environment between 2009 and 2015.
The new superbug C. difficile, according to Phys.org, is a bacteria that may infect human intestines. Its antibiotic resistance is particularly concerning.
The newly discovered illness can cause severe gastrointestinal irritation in terms of severity. This can result in life-threatening health problems, such as severe diarrhea. Most of the victims are the elderly and hospitalized patients.
The new superbug has been discovered on 14 pig farms in Denmark as of this writing. According to the new study, the abuse of antibiotics as a cheap production technique on pig farms had a key role in the development of the new superbug.
"Our finding of multiple and shared resistance genes indicate that C. difficile is a reservoir of antimicrobial resistance genes that can be exchanged between animals and humans," researchers said in a statement (via Eurekalert).
CTV News said C. difficile is found in the intestines of many people as a natural element of the digestive system's equilibrium, although its development is generally inhibited by other bacteria.
Antibiotics, a common tool in the healthcare system, can release the deadly side of C. difficile.
Experts Warn Over Antibotic Abuse
On the other hand, experts have warned against humans overusing antibiotics, which might increase antibiotic-resistant infections.
Experts have previously raised concerns about antibiotic usage in agricultural animals. The UN and the Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance issued a joint statement in August 2021 advocating for a major decrease of antimicrobials in food production and farm animals.
UN also underscored that the world is fast approaching a tipping point when antimicrobials used to treat illnesses in people, animals, and plants will no longer be effective.
Viruses that can spread from animals to people aren't exactly new. The Minnesota Department of Health provides a list of infectious illnesses that animals may get and then pass on to humans.
Rabies is one of the most frequent zoonotic illnesses. It is most common in dogs and since people have frequent contact with dogs, they are at risk of contracting rabies if they are not careful.
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