This rather interesting study tracks the movement and evolution of antibiotic resistance from hog cesspools (lagoons) caused by factory production (hog farming) of pig meat. You see, in order to pack that many hogs together and not cause them to keel over and die from disease, they have to be pumped full of antibiotics. Guess where the antibiotics end up? In their “refuse”.
As always, I leave you with The Meatrix if you want to know more about factory farming.
The routine use of antibiotics in swine production can have unintended consequences, with antibiotic resistance genes sometimes leaking from waste lagoons into groundwater, according to new research from the University of Illinois.
Researchers report that some genes found in hog waste lagoons are transferred, “like batons,” from one bacterial species to another. This migration across species and into new environments sometimes dilutes, and sometimes amplifies, genes conferring antibiotic resistance, they say.
The new report, in the August issue of “Applied and Environmental Microbiology,” tracks the passage of tetracycline resistance genes from hog waste lagoons into groundwater wells at two Illinois swine facilities.
Tetracycline is widely used in swine production. It is injected into the animals to treat or prevent disease, and is often used as an additive in hog feed to boost the animals’ growth.
Its near-continuous use in some hog farms promotes the evolution of tetracycline-resistant strains in the animals’ digestive tracts and manure.
This is the first study to take a broad sample of tetracycline resistance genes in a landscape dominated by hog farming, said principal investigator R.I. Mackie, a professor in the University of Illinois-Champaign department of animal sciences and an affiliate of the Institute for Genomic Biology.