Animal antibiotic use has an early but important impact on the emergence of antibiotic resistance in human commensal bacteria

David L. Smith, Anthony D. Harris, Judith A. Johnson, Ellen K. Silbergeld, J. Glenn Morris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Antibiotic use is known to promote the development of antibiotic resistance, but substantial controversy exists about the impact of agricultural antibiotic use (AAU) on the subsequent emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria among humans. AAU for animal growth promotion or for treatment or control of animal diseases generates reservoirs of antibiotic-resistant (AR) bacteria that contaminate animal food products, Mathematical models are an important tool for understanding the potential medical consequences of this increased exposure. We have developed a mathematical model to evaluate factors affecting the prevalence of human commensal AR bacteria that cause opportunistic infections (e.g., enterococci). Our analysis suggests that AAU hastens the appearance of AR bacteria in humans. Our model indicates that the greatest impact occurs very early in the emergence of resistance, when AR bacteria are rare, possibly below the detection limits of current surveillance methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6434-6439
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number9
StatePublished - Apr 30 2002


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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