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Source: Dr. Morgan Scott, 785-532-4602,
Web sites: and
News release prepared by: Beth Bohn, 785-532-6415,

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


MANHATTAN -- The problem of germ or bacteria resistance to drugs -- or antimicrobials -- used to treat infections not only affects humans, but also animals.

When the animals involved are food animals like cattle, antimicrobial resistance becomes even more of a challenge because of potential food safety concerns. If cattle bacteria that harbor resistance can be transmitted through the food supply and infect humans, then public health may be threatened.

Understanding ways to mitigate antimicrobial resistance and how to make detection and surveillance programs more effective will be the topic of a presentation by a Kansas State University veterinarian and epidemiologist at the K-State Beef Cattle Institute's International Conference on the Use of Antimicrobials in Cattle Production, May 27-29, at K-State.

Dr. Morgan Scott, professor of epidemiology in the K-State College of Veterinary Medicine, will present "How is Antimicrobial Resistance Evaluated in Populations of Animals and Bacteria" at the conference. Scott has represented the United States on several European Union–U.S. food safety initiatives evaluating science policy as related to foodborne pathogens and antimicrobial resistance. He also is a member of a World Health Organization animal husbandry working group that is working on the problem of antimicrobial resistance.

"Available evidence supports theories suggesting that the use of antimicrobials in food animals leads to the favorable selection of resistant strains of bacteria within treated animals and within aggregated groups of treated animals," Scott said. "However, this measurable effect applies largely to periods while animals are being treated, and for short periods thereafter."

Poorly understood, Scott said, are the longer-term effects reflecting the cumulative impacts of multiple uses of antimicrobials, such as antibiotics, in many food animals over extended periods of time.

"On the other hand, research and surveillance of antimicrobial resistance is often largely focused on the target pathogen, such as a respiratory bacterium, and may not adequately reflect the public health risk, including to food safety, or be particularly useful in mitigating against or reducing the levels of antimicrobial resistance among non-target bacteria, such as are found in the feces of cattle," he said.

In his presentation, Scott will illustrate several potential solutions to problems with current research methods and surveillance for antimicrobial resistance.

Also speaking at the conference will be Dr. Frank Aarestrup of the Danish Institute for Food and Veterinary Research in Denmark. Aarestrup heads the WHO animal husbandry working group that Scott serves on.

Organized by K-State's Beef Cattle Institute, the goal of the International Conference on the Use of Antimicrobials in Cattle Production is to educate consumers, producers and veterinarians about the use of antimicrobials in cattle production. More information on the conference, including how to register, is available online at