A One Health Approach to Antimicrobial Use & Resistance

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Antibiotics improve human, animal and plant health, and increase life expectancy.1 While a majority of individuals acknowledge the positive role antibiotics play in the health of humans, animals and plants, the topic of antimicrobial resistance—when antibiotics can no longer cure bacterial infections2—is frequently misunderstood, misappropriated and polarizing.

Antimicrobial resistance occurs via three mechanisms, each requiring only minor changes in biochemistry: 1) Bacteria may possess enzymes that degrade antibiotics; 2) Bacteria may replace or alter the method through which the antibiotic enters the cell; and 3) Bacteria may alter the cellular target site of the antibiotic.3 A historical look at antimicrobial resistance shows it is not a new phenomenon but existed before widespread use in human and animal medicine.

 

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