Source Attribution and Risk Assessment of Antimicrobial Resistance

Sara Monteiro Pires*, Ana Sofia Riberio Duarte, Tine Hald

*Corresponding author for this work

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Source attribution and microbial risk assessment methods have been widely applied for the control of several foodborne pathogens worldwide by identifying (i) the most important pathogen sources and (ii) the risk represented by specific foods and the critical points in these foods’ production chains for microbial control. Such evidence has proved crucial for risk managers to identify and prioritize effective food safety and public health strategies. In the context of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) from livestock and pets, the utility of these methods is recognized, but a number of challenges have largely prevented their application and routine use. One key challenge has been to define the hazard in question: Is it the antimicrobial drug use in animals, the antimicrobial-resistant bacteria in animals and foods, or the antimicrobial resistance genes that can be transferred between commensal and pathogenic bacteria in the animal or human gut or in the environment? Other important limitations include the lack of occurrence and transmission data and the lack of evidence to inform dose-response relationships. We present the main principles, available methods, strengths, and weaknesses of source attribution and risk assessment methods, discuss their utility to identify sources and estimate risks of AMR from livestock and pets, and provide an overview of conducted studies. In addition, we discuss remaining challenges and current and future opportunities to improve methods and knowledge of the sources and transmission routes of AMR from animals through food, direct contact, or the environment, including improvements in surveillance and developments in genotypic typing methods.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberARBA-0027-2017
JournalMicrobiology Spectrum
Issue number3
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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