Plant-Foods May Be Transmitting Superbugs To Humans, Reveals Study

The Logical Indian Crew India

June 24th, 2019 / 5:49 PM

The study presented to the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) by the University of Southern California researchers found that plants can serve as carriers for spreading antibiotic resistance to the gut microbiome.

In the last five years, the world has seen a change in terms of people choosing a healthy lifestyle. People shifting to green vegetables and organic foods over fast foods have only increased. However, as the doctors appreciate the current trend, a new study has found that green plant can carry antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found out that almost 20% of the two million antibiotic-resistant infections reported per year are related to green vegetables. This estimate is based on patients who directly acquire antibiotic-resistant superbugs from eating meat.



What is antibiotic resistance, and how can it harm us?

Antibiotics are medicines that are used to cure bacterial infections. However, when bacteria develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them, then the bacteria is called to be antibiotic resistance (Superbug). The bacteria multiply in the system and could be fatal at times. List of diseases that sometimes take time or become impossible to treat due to antibiotic resistance are – pneumonia, blood poisoning, foodborne illnesses, tuberculosis, and gonorrhoea.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has included antibiotic resistance in its ‘high priority’ list to find a solution.

As of now, various forms of meat were considered to be the primary source of transmitting antibiotic-resistant superbugs to a human body. Chicken is considered to be at the forefront of spreading antibiotic resistance bacteria in human guts. However, the new findings have found that even green plants can be carrying antibiotic-resistant superbugs to the human system.


What did the study reveal?

The study presented to the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) by the University of Southern California researchers found that plants can serve as carriers for spreading antibiotic resistance to the gut microbiome.

Marlene Maeusli, a researcher at USC said, “We found differences in the ability of bacteria to silently hide in the gut after ingestion, depending on a variety of host and bacterial factors.”

The study revealed that unlike diarrheal illness, which happens after consuming contaminated vegetables, the antibiotic-resistant bacteria can hide in the human intestines for months or even years and later cause diseases such as a urinary infection.

To understand the role of veggies in spreading antibiotic-resistance superbugs, researchers developed a lettuce-mouse model system that does not cause immediate illness, to mimic the consumption of superbugs with plant-foods. The lettuce was grown and was exposed to antibiotic-resistant E.coli. The exposed lettuce was fed to the mice, and its faecal samples were analyzed over time.

Maeusli said, “We found differences in the ability of bacteria to silently colonize the gut after ingestion, depending on a variety of host and bacterial factors.” She said the team mimicked antibiotic and antacid treatments as they could affect the ability of superbugs to survive in the human system.

It was found out that ingestion of one type of antibiotic did not bolster the ability of superbugs to conceal in the mouse intestines — however, the other type of antibiotic lead to stable gut colonization after getting exposed.

The researchers concluded the study by stating, “We continue to seek the plant characteristics and host factors that result in key microbial community shifts in the gut that put us at risk for colonization and those that prevent it.”
Also Read: Mumbai: Eating Chicken Not Safe Any More? Study Finds ‘Multi-Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria’ In Chicken Samples


Contributors

Written by : Debarghya Sil

Edited by : Bharat Nayak

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