Pigs can pass deadly superbugs to people, study reveals | Antibiotics | The Guardian

Scientists have uncovered evidence that dangerous versions of superbugs can spread from pigs to humans. The discovery underlines fears that intensive use of antibiotics on farms is leading to the spread of microbes resistant to them.

The discovery of the link has been made by Semeh Bejaoui and Dorte Frees of Copenhagen University and Soren Persson at Denmark’s Statens Serum Institute and focuses on the superbug Clostridioides difficile, which is considered one of the world’s major antibiotic resistance threats.

“Our finding indicates that C difficile is a reservoir of antimicrobial resistance genes that can be exchanged between animals and humans,” said Bejaoui, who is due to present her study at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases in Lisbonon Sunday. “This alarming discovery suggests that resistance to antibiotics can spread more widely than previously thought, and confirms links in the resistance chain leading from farm animals to humans.”

C difficile infects the human gut and is resistant to all but three antibiotics in use today. Some strains contain genes that allow them to produce toxins that can trigger gut inflammation and life-threatening diarrhoea in the elderly and in hospital patients. The bacterium is considered one of the biggest antibiotic resistance threats in developed countries. In the US, it caused an estimated 223,900 infections and 12,800 deaths in 2017 and cost the healthcare system more than $1bn.

 

Source: Pigs can pass deadly superbugs to people, study reveals | Antibiotics | The Guardian