Use of antimicrobial growth promoters in food animals and Enterococcus faecium resistance to therapeutic antimicrobial drugs in Europe

Henrik Caspar Wegener, Frank Møller Aarestrup, Lars Bogø Jensen, Anette Marie Hammerum, Flemming Bager

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Supplementing animal feed with antimicrobial agents to enhance growth has been common practice for more than 30 years and is estimated to constitute more than half the total antimicrobial use worldwide. The potential public health consequences of this use have been debated; however, until recently, clear evidence of a health risk was not available. Accumulating evidence now indicates that the use of the glycopeptide avoparcin as a growth promoter has created in food animals a major reservoir of Enterococcus faecium, which contains the high level glycopeptide resistance determinant vanA, located on the Tn1546 transposon. Furthermore, glycopeptide-resistant strains, as well as resistance determinants, can be transmitted from animals to humans. Two antimicrobial classes expected to provide the future therapeutic options for treatment of infections with vancomycin-resistant enterococci have analogues among the growth promoters, and a huge animal reservoir of resistant E. faecium has already been created, posing a new public health problem.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEmerging Infectious Diseases (Print Edition)
Volume5
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)329-335
ISSN1080-6040
Publication statusPublished - 1999

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