Aquaculture for all

Danish Group Investigates Aqua Antibiotics, Human Health

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DENMARK - Heuer from the Technical University of Denmark at Sborg and co-authors have published a paper in Clinical Infectious Diseases describing their study into the implications on human health of antibiotics used in aquaculture.

Heuer and his co-authors explain that intensive use of antimicrobial agents in aquaculture provides a selective pressure creating reservoirs of drug-resistant bacteria and transferable resistance genes in fish pathogens and other bacteria in the aquatic environment. From these reservoirs, resistance genes may disseminate by horizontal gene transfer and reach human pathogens, or drug-resistant pathogens from the aquatic environment may reach humans directly.

Horizontal gene transfer may occur in the aquaculture environment, in the food chain, or in the human intestinal tract.

Among the antimicrobial agents commonly used in aquaculture, several are classified by the World Health Organisation as critically important for use in humans. Occurrence of resistance to these antimicrobial agents in human pathogens severely limits the therapeutic options in human infections.

Considering the rapid growth and importance of aquaculture industry in many regions of the world and the widespread, intensive, and often unregulated use of antimicrobial agents in this area of animal production, efforts are needed to prevent development and spread of antimicrobial resistance in aquaculture to reduce the risk to human health.


Heuer O.E,, H. Kruse, K. Grave, P. Collignon, I. Karunasagar and F.J. Angulo. 2009. Human health consequences of use of antimicrobial agents in aquaculture. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 49. DOI: 10.1086/605667

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