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Use and Misuse of Antimicrobial Drugs in Poultry and Livestock: Mechanisms of Antimicrobial Resistance
Toni Poole* and Cynthia Sheffield
USDA, Agricultural Research, Southern Plains Area Research Center, 2881 F&B Road, College Station, TX 77845, USA *Corresponding author:


Food safety begins on the farm with management practices that contribute to an abundant, safe, and affordable food supply. To attain this goal antimicrobials have been used in all stages of food animal production in the United States and elsewhere around the world at one time or another. Among food–production animals antimicrobials are used for growth promotion, disease prophylaxis or disease treatment, and are generally administered to the entire flock or herd. Over many decades bacteria have become resistant to multiple antimicrobial classes in a cumulative manner. Bacteria exhibit a number of well characterized mechanisms of resistance to antimicrobials that include: 1) modification of the antimicrobial; 2) alteration of the drug target; 3) decreased access of drug to target; and 4) implementation of an alternative metabolic pathway not affected by the drug. The mechanisms of resistance are complex and depend on the type of bacterium involved (e.g. Gram–positive or Gram–negative) and the class of drug. Some bacterial species have accumulated resistance to nearly all antimicrobial classes due to a combination of intrinsic and acquired processes. This has and will continue to lead to clinical failures of antimicrobial treatment in both human and animal medicine.

Key words: Food animal production, Intrinsic and acquired, resistance, Mechanisms of dissemination, Multiple drug


ISSN 0253-8318 (Print)
ISSN 2074-7764 (Online)