SAN FRANCISCO, June 22 (Xinhua) – Antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be transmitted to humans through the consumption of plant foods, which could pose health risks for the general public, according to a study released on Saturday.
Researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) have discovered how plant foods serve as vehicles to spread antibiotic resistance to the intestinal microbiome, said a study presented to ASM Microbe 2019, an annual meeting of the American Society of Microbiology (ASM). from the 20th to the 24th of June.
During an experiment with mice, the scientists observed antibiotic bacteria or "superbugs" successfully hidden in the intestines of mice fed with lettuce contaminated with E. coli antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
"We found differences in the ability of bacteria to colonize the intestine quietly after ingestion, depending on a variety of host and bacterial factors," said Marlene Maeusli, a USC researcher and lead author of the study.
Unlike outbreaks of diarrheal diseases caused immediately after humans ingest contaminated vegetables, antibiotic-resistant bacteria can hide in the human intestines for months or even years before they cause a disease, such as a urinary tract infection, the study said.
"Our findings underscore the importance of combating resistance to food-borne antibiotics from a complete perspective of the food chain, which includes plant foods other than meat," said Maeusli.
About 2 million cases of antibiotic-resistant infections occur every year in the United States and 20 percent of them are linked to agriculture, according to estimates by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.