Drug-Resistant Foodborne Bacteria Gaining Ground

Antibiotic resistance increased in Salmonella, Salmonella Typhi and Campylobacter

You had an undercooked burger, and now you’re paying the price. It's food poisoning, and new evidence suggests treating it may not be so simple.

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that some strains of salmonella and campylobacter have become partially resistant to some antibiotics.

“Understanding trends in antibiotic resistance helps doctors to prescribe effective treatment and public health officials to investigate outbreaks faster,” read the report.

Salmonella is a bacteria found in raw or undercooked meat, eggs and poultry. This bacterium typically lives in animal and human intestines and feces. Humans tend to become infected through contaminated water or food. Campylobacter is another bacterium found in meats, raw milk and dirty water. Campylobacter bacteria are transmitted to humans from animals and animal products.

Salmonella and campylobacter can cause diarrhea, fever and vomiting. These symptoms usually fade within a week without treatment. In some cases, bacteria can leak into the bloodstream and must be treated with antibiotics. In severe cases, salmonella and campylobacter can lead to chronic arthritis or death.

According to the CDC, about 440,000 Americans will become ill because of antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year.

The CDC found that one strain of salmonella has become 46 percent resistant to antibiotics — a jump up from 18 percent in 2011.

Another salmonella strain (salmonella typhi) — which causes typhoid fever — is now almost 70 percent resistant, after staying at 50 percent from 2008 to 2012. One strain of campylobacter (campylobacter coli) is also now 18 percent resistant — a two-fold increase from 2011.

According to the CDC, antibiotics given to livestock to increase their size and growth might be a culprit.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released new regulations June 2 that will require farmers to get an antibiotic prescription for their animals. This means animals can now only be prescribed antibiotics for sickness, not for growth.

These rules will go into effect by December 2016, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The overuse of antibiotics to treat humans may also be to blame because it may lead to germs becoming stronger and resistant, according to the CDC.

“We’re not entering the post-antibiotic world, we’re actually in it,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell, during the White House Forum on Antibiotic Stewardship.

There may be some good news, however.

According to the CDC, salmonella overall has remained resistant to antibiotics at the same rate (about 10 percent) since 2008. Only two strands were found to be more resistant to antibiotics.