Flying the Coop: Antibiotic Resistance Spreads To Birds, Wildlife

"One afternoon last winter, Julie Ellis unfurled a long, white tarp under a stand of trees near Coes Pond where hundreds of crows roost. Her mission: to collect as much bird poop as possible. Back in the laboratory, Ellis’ colleagues combed through the feces. Testing its bacteria, they discovered something unusual -- genes that make the crows resistant to antibiotics."

"Drug-resistant infections are a fast-growing threat to human health, due largely to overuse of antibiotics in human medicine and livestock production, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At least 2 million people each year in the United States alone are sickened by infections resistant to drugs. Now new research, including the crow poop study conducted in four states, provides evidence that antibiotic resistance has spread beyond hospitals and farms to wildlife. Some experts worry that contaminating wildlife with such genes may hasten the spread of drug resistance. Nevertheless, the consequences for human health remain poorly understood."

Lindsey Konkel reports for Environmental Health News November 5, 2013.

SEE ALSO:

"A Science Project With Legs" (New York Times)

"Why Are Pig Farmers Still Using Growth-Promoting Drugs?" (NPR)

Source: EHN, 11/05/2013