Reducing the transfer of resistance between chickens and humans

We show how antimicrobial resistance spreads in the intestines of poultry and humans and how these two hosts are linked in the development of resistant bacteria. Our work creates a basis for measures to reduce the development of resistance stemming from chicken production and meat consumption.

  • Project description (completed research project)

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    We are investigating how bacteria in the intestines of poultry become resistant and how this resistance is then passed on to microbes, including pathogens, in the human intestine. To this end, we will first conduct an animal study to determine which bacterial strains are particularly active in exchanging resistance genes. After that, we will analyse the capacity of these strains to transfer genetic material to other bacterial species. In subsequent steps, we investigate the exact mechanisms of this gene transfer process in the laboratory, first in a model of poultry intestine, then in a model of the human intestine. Finally, we will test the findings and resistant bacteria in an animal study with poultry.

  • Background

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    Poultry is the world's most important source of animal protein for humans. As such, it is also a particularly important factor in the transmission of resistance genes between animals and humans. Little is known about the transmission of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria through chicken production and meat consumption. As part of a One Health concept, a better understanding of the development of resistance in chickens and its transmission to humans could provide important information for prevention.

  • Aim

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    Our study sets out to discover how resistance genes spread in poultry and humans. The aim is to clarify how the use of antimicrobials in chicken farms contributes to the spread of resistance genes in the human digestive tract, and possibly feeds back to chickens through environmental routes.

  • Relevance

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    The knowledge gained will help to adapt the use of antimicrobials in poultry farming and to develop new strategies to prevent the transmission of resistance genes through the food chain from poultry to humans.

  • Original title

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    Modelling the spread of antibiotic resistance genes between chicken and human