Complexities in understanding antimicrobial resistance across domesticated animal, human, and environmental systems

Graham DW, Bergeron G, Bourassa MW, Dickson J, Gomes F, Howe A, Kahn LH, Morley PS, Scott HM, Simjee S, Singer RS, Smith TC, Storrs C, Wittum TE
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1441:17-30

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a significant threat to both human and animal health. The spread of AMR bacteria and genes across systems can occur through a myriad of pathways, both related and unrelated to agriculture, including via wastewater, soils, manure applications, direct exchange between humans and animals, and food exposure. Tracing origins and drivers of AMR bacteria and genes is challenging due to the array of contexts and the complexity of interactions overlapping health practice, microbiology, genetics, applied science and engineering, as well as social and human factors. Critically assessing the diverse and sometimes contradictory AMR literature is a valuable step in identifying tractable mitigation options to stem AMR spread. In this article we review research on the nonfoodborne spread of AMR, with a focus on domesticated animals and the environment and possible exposures to humans. Attention is especially placed on delineating possible sources and causes of AMR bacterial phenotypes, including underpinning the genetics important to human and animal health.

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