News Scan for Jul 30, 2018

Antibiotic use in UK livestock
Tick bite meat allergy
Airborne antibiotic resistance genes

Antibiotic use in UK poultry, pigs, and gamebirds on the decline

A new interim report shows the UK livestock industry is making progress toward 2020 antibiotic targets.

The half-year report from the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) shows that the use of antibiotics in chickens and turkeys is now below the government-approved sector-specific targets developed by RUMA's Target Task Force of 25 milligrams per Population Correction Unit for chickens and 50 mg/PCU for turkeys. Antibiotic use in the UK poultry meat sector fell by 82% from 2012 through 2017, as poultry farmers stopped prophylactic use of antibiotics, ended colistin use, banned use of 3rd and 4th generation cephalosporins, and reduced fluoroquinolone use by 91%.

In the UK pig sector, a 28% reduction in antibiotic use in 2017 means that the sector has halved its use in 2 years and is on track to reach 99 mg/PCU in 2020. Antibiotic use also fell in gamebirds, with a 36% drop in 2017; its target was 25%.

RUMA also reports that the beef and dairy industries are currently developing antibiotic usage datasets to quantify antibiotic use in beef and dairy cattle, and have established antimicrobial stewardship groups. The Dairy Antimicrobial Stewardship and Beef Antimicrobial Use groups will be publishing action plans to achieve antibiotic use targets in August 2018.
Jul 27 RUMA press release
Jul 27 RUMA half-year summary


Allergy clinic analysis finds tick bite meat allergy leads anaphylaxis culprits

Researchers who studied the causes of anaphylaxis at an allergy and immunology clinic in Tennessee found that the highest percentage were from alpha gal allergy, a reaction to red meat that can develop following a bite from the Lone Star tick. The team reported its findings today in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, the journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI).

Alpha gal allergy was first identified in 2008, and the allergy is diagnosed with a blood test. Allergic reactions to food usually occur quickly, within about 60 minutes of eating the food. However, allergic reactions to alpha gal—a complex sugar found in beef, pork, and venison—take several hours to develop and can be a challenge to diagnose, according to a press release from the ACAAI.

Of 281 patients who were seen for anaphylaxis between 2006 and 2016, 33% were from alpha gal.

Debandra Pattanaik, MD, the study's lead author, said the team conducted similar reviews on the causes of anaphylaxis in 1993 and 2006, and the number of unidentified cases dropped from 59% in 2006 to 35% in the new report, probably due to the number of identified alpha gal cases. The authors said that with increased awareness of red meat allergy and more testing, alpha gal allergy has evolved from an unknown entity to the center's most identified cause of anaphylaxis.

Jay Lieberman, MD, study coauthor, said Tennessee has a high population of Lone Star ticks, which may have contributed to the large number of alpha gal cases the clinic identified. He added that though the tick is predominantly found in the southeastern United States, it is also found in many states outside the region, leading to more cases reported nationwide.

Food allergies were the second leading cause of anaphylaxis, accounting for 24%, followed by insect venom (18%), exercise (6%), systemic mastocystosis (6%), medications (4%), and other (3%).
Jul 30 Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol abstract
Jul 30 ACAAI press release


Antibiotic resistance genes in the air

New research on urban air pollutants by Chinese scientists has detected antibiotic resistance genes in the air of 19 cities.

Using automobile air conditioning filters, the scientists took ambient total particulate matter samples from 19 cities in 13 countries. Testing of the samples revealed the presence of 30 antibiotic resistance gene (ARG) subtypes conferring resistance to seven common classes of antibiotics: quinolones, beta-lactams, macrolides, tetracyclines, sulfonamides, aminoglycosides, and vancomycin. Of the 19 cities surveyed, Beijing was found to have the highest diversity of ARGS, with 18 ARG subtypes, while San Francisco had the highest overall level of ARG subtypes. Genes providing resistance to beta-lactams and quinolones were the most abundant types of ARG found in all 19 cities.

In addition, the scientists examined the longitudinal dynamics of airborne antibiotic resistance in Xi'an, China, and found that from 2004 to 2014, the relative abundance of the quinolone resistance gene qepA and the beta-lactam resistance gene blaTEM in fine particulate matter increased by 26% and 178%, respectively. This finding, they note, corresponds with a 109% increase in quinolone use and a 427% increase in cephalosporin use at Xi'an Hushuan Central Hospital from 2008 to 2010, suggesting a possible link between hospital antibiotic usage and increasing abundance of airborne ARGs.

Although the consequences need to be further explored, the authors of the study say the findings highlight the potential public health threat of airborne ARGs.

"Increases in abundances of airborne ARGs inevitably could lead to increased 'second-hand' inhalation risk of ARGs for city inhabitants," the authors write. "Different from the chemical products, ARGs could transmit among people as well as bacterial species, thus increasing the susceptibility of humans or the environment to bacterial resistance."

The study was published in Environmental Science and Technology.
Jul 25 Environ Sci Technol abstract

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