a1 School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences, University of South Australia, GPO Box 2471, Adelaide, South Australia 5001, Australia.
Antibiotic resistance in bacteria that cause disease in man is an issue of major concern. Although misuse of antibiotics in human medicine is the principal cause of the problem, antibiotic-resistant bacteria originating in animals are contributory factors, with some types of resistance in some species of bacteria. Antibiotics are added to animal feeds to treat and prevent infections and to improve growth and production. Until recently, the major concerns about incorporation of antibiotics in animal feeds related to antibiotic residues in products from treated animals. Although, in 1969, the Swann (1969) report drew attention to the potential for antibiotic-resistant bacteria to spread from treated animals via the food chain, there was little response until the detection of vancomycin-resistant enterococci in animals fed a related glycopeptide, avoparcin. Subsequently, attention started to focus on the issue and other examples of transfer of resistant bacteria through the food chain, such as enterococci resistant to quinupristin–dalfopristin or to everninomicin, fluoroquinolone-resistant campylobacters and multiresistant Escherichia coli, and salmonella such as Salmonella typhimurium DT104. Reviews and committees in many countries have highlighted the need for better control of licensing of antibiotics, and codes for prudent use of antibiotics by veterinary practitioners and farmers. The continued use of antibiotic growth promoters has been questioned and there is a need to ensure that antibiotics important in human medicine are not used therapeutically or prophylactically in animals.