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Rev Med Chil. 2004 Aug;132(8):1001-6.

[Antibiotics and aquaculture in Chile: implications for human and animal health].

[Article in Spanish]

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Academia Chilena de Medicina y Academia Chilena de Ciencias, Instituto de Chile.


Industrial antibiotic usage in agribusinesses and aquaculture is the force that drives the evolution of antibiotic resistant bacteria that produce human and animal disease in many countries. Several studies have demonstrated that most of the industrial use of antibiotics is unnecessary, and that modernization and hygienic changes can reduce this use of antibiotics without negative economic impact. In Chile, industrial aquaculture of salmon has expanded rapidly in the last 20 years becoming a major export business. The exponential growth of this industry has been accompanied by an unrestricted heavy usage of antibiotics in the aquatic environments of lakes, rivers and the ocean, and its impact is being felt in the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria around aquaculture sites and a decrease in the plancktonic diversity in the same areas. The passage of antibiotic resistance genes from aquatic bacteria to human and animal pathogens has been demonstrated, indicating that industrial use of antibiotics in aquaculture affects negatively the antibiotic therapy of human and animal bacterial infections. The Chilean situation triggers important concerns because it includes the use of fluoroquinolones in aquaculture, that are not biodegradable and are able to remain in the environment for years as well as being still effective in treating human infections. The use of large volumes of a wide spectrum of antibiotics in an aquatic environment heavily contaminated with human and animal pathogens also amplifies the opportunities for gene transfer among bacteria, facilitating the emergence of antibiotic resistance and more pathogenic bacterial recombinants. The detection of residual antibiotics in salmons marketed for human consumption that can modify the normal flora of the population also suggests the need for controls on this antibiotic usage and on the presence of residual antibiotics in aquaculture food products. This important problem of public health demands an active dialogue between government officials responsible for protecting public health, aquaculture industry representatives, politicians, consumers and professionals dealing with these matters.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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