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Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2000 May;14(4):321-5.

Ecological impact of antibiotic use in animals on different complex microflora: environment.

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Robert Koch-Institut, Bereich Wernigerode, Burgstrasse 37, D-38855, Wernigerode, Germany.


Different means of interaction between microecological systems in different animal hosts (including humans) and the environment may occur during the transfer of resistant bacteria and their resistance genes. Spread of resistance takes place in different ways with respect to clonal spread of resistance strains by the spread of wide host range plasmids and translocatable elements. Commensals in ecosystems have a special significance and a pronounced capacity for acquisition and transfer of resistance genes as with Enterococcus faecium and Escherichia coli in the gut flora or Pseudomonas spp. in aquatic environments. The route of transmission from animals to humans by meat products is well established. Other routes via water and food plants (vegetables) have been investigated less, although resistance genes transfer in aquatic environments as evidenced from sequence comparison of such genes (e.g. tetR, floR in Salmonella typhimurium DT104). Whether this is due to rare but important transfer events or whether there is a more frequent exchange in aquatic or terrestrial environments needs further elucidation.

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