Three researchers from the Institute for Tropical Medicine (known as the “IMT”) in Antwerp are calling for a holistic approach to combating resistance to antibiotics by Salmonella bacteria. This is in reaction to a French study published on Wednesday. The IMT researchers are arguing for united action, so as to deal with this public health problem, which affects humans as much as animals.
Ampicillin is an antibiotic derived from penicillin, initially used preventively in the 1950s through to 1960 for livestock. It then began to be used to treat human infections as well from 1961 onwards. Its preventive use in animals was banned in Europe in 2006, whilst the first cases of resistance in humans were seen in 1962 in Great Britain.
Researchers have now made a major discovery at the Institut Pasteur in Paris. They have been able to demonstrate for the first time in a study, appearing in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, that resistance of the bacteria to ampicillin already existed before the medicine was used in humans. The study states that this resistance is due to overuse of the product in animals.
However, the preventive use of ampicillin persists moreover in Europe and feeds the resistance of Salmonella to antibiotics, which has a global impact. This is the case given that food production knows no boundaries.
The researchers Sandra Van Puyvelde, Stijn Deborggraeve and Jan Jacobs of the IMT, are consequently advocating a “One Health” approach, so as to curb this phenomenon. They say that the national directives, concerning the preventive treatment of cattle using ampicillin, should be harmonized using these controlled antibiotics.
Sandra Van Puyvelde states, “Regulation is particularly lacking within less developed countries.” She goes on, “In the United States, and particularly in Asia, the use of antibiotics for breeding is more significant than in Europe.”
As part of this holistic approach, experts in the IMT, including Sandra Van Puyvelde, moreover are suggesting courses for hospital managers in Cambodia, the Congo or even Rwanda, so as to avoid resistance being an issue in hospital environments.