Journal Article

Emergence, Spread, and Environmental Effect of Antimicrobial Resistance: How Use of an Antimicrobial Anywhere Can Increase Resistance to Any Antimicrobial Anywhere else

Thomas F. O'Brien

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 34, issue Supplement_3, pages S78-S84
Published in print June 2002 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online June 2002 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/340244
Emergence, Spread, and Environmental Effect of Antimicrobial Resistance: How Use of an Antimicrobial Anywhere Can Increase Resistance to Any Antimicrobial Anywhere else

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Use of an antimicrobial agent selects for overgrowth of a bacterial strain that has a gene expressing resistance to the agent. It also selects for the assembly and evolution of complex genetic vectors encoding, expressing, linking, and spreading that and other resistance genes. Once evolved, a competitive construct of such genetic elements may spread widely through the world's bacterial populations. A bacterial isolate at any place may thus be resistant—not only because nearby use of antimicrobials had amplified such a genetic construct locally, but also because distant use had caused the construct or its components to evolve in the first place and spread there. The levels of resistance at any time and place may therefore reflect in part the total number of bacteria in the world exposed to antimicrobials up until then. Tracing the evolution and spread of such genetic elements through bacterial populations far from one another, such as those of animals and humans, can be facilitated by newer genetic methods.

Journal Article.  5056 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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