Stories of Antibiotic Use and Resistance
Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, University of Minnesota
As a researcher, I study the environmental dimension of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance; and as an avian veterinarian, I use antibiotics to treat animals undergoing rehabilitation when needed.
In wildlife rehabilitation, one of the most challenging aspects is the lack of diagnostic tools, which makes it difficult to determine what specific bacterium affects the animal and what antibiotic might be more appropriate to use each time.
For my PhD, I studied the role of point sources on the dissemination [spread] of antibiotic resistance in the environment. Now, as a postdoctoral scientist, I am working on a project to map the environmental presence of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance in Minnesota. As a clinical veterinarian, I've seen cases where treatments failed due to antibiotic resistance.
Through my research, we are trying to advance our understanding of how antibiotics and antibiotic resistance disseminate into the natural environment, how to attribute what we find to specific sources, and what the risks are to human and animal health. In wildlife rehabilitation, we are also aiming to improve antibiotic stewardship, as it is an area that is lacking at the moment.
As a veterinarian, I find treatment failure in wildlife rehabilitation, and potential dissemination of antibiotic resistance from rehabilitated animals into the wild, very concerning. As a person, I am concerned about treatment failure for common infections in the human population. I feel that I hear about more family and friend cases lately having problems with antibiotic treatment in terms of the antibiotics not working.
In order to understand and map antibiotic use and resistance for the state of Minnesota so that we can ultimately establish mitigation strategies in environmental hotspot areas, it would be great to have representative quantitative data on antibiotic use in humans and all animal species .