What some insects are capable of is enough to make the horror film The Fly seem cuddly by comparison. In a study funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, researchers collected flies and cockroaches from manure on pig farms and found that the insects carried the same antibiotic-resistant bacteria as the pigs who were fed the drugs. The bacteria samples were resistant to erythromycin, streptomycin, and kanamycin and were highly resistant to tetracycline.
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According to researcher Dr. Ludek Zurek, the insects can travel from farms to nearby residences and spread the antibiotic-resistant bacteria to people through contact with food. If the bacterial strains multiply in large numbers, they have the potential to leave patients immune to the healing effects of antibiotic medications, which could make treatment for infections difficult. The new research mirrors what previous studies have shown about the danger that antibiotic-resistant bacteria pose to people. To quote The Fly, “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”
Written by Michelle Kretzer