Antibiotic Resistance: An Environmental Problem Threatening Global Health Care

Saturday, 14 February 2015: 3:00 PM-4:30 PM
Room LL21A (San Jose Convention Center)
There is a growing awareness that decades of antibiotic misuse caused a rapid increase in the global prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Antibiotic resistance increases mortality from common infections and advanced medical procedures. The discovery and development of new antibiotics must be incentivized; in the meantime, it is essential to reduce selection by minimizing misuse of antibiotics. Research shows that very low concentrations of antibiotics, such as those found in the wider environment, select for resistance. Every year, tons of antibiotics reach the environment through sewage and treatment plants and from use in agriculture and aquaculture. In addition, other environmental contaminants, such as heavy metals, select indirectly for antibiotic resistance. This imposes a global selection pressure for resistance development throughout the ecosystem. Genetic transfer between bacteria, coupled with selection by antibiotics, results in the spread of resistance from bacteria in the wider environment to pathogens that cause infections in humans. Ensuring access to effective antibiotics to maintain effective health care requires action from scientists, medical practitioners, politicians, and the public. This symposium will discuss the implications of the spread of antibiotics and resistance elements in the natural cycle. What will be the consequences of losing effective antibiotics, and what can we do to meet the challenge of this global threat to human health care?
Anneli Waara, Uppsala University
Diarmaid Hughes, Uppsala University
Selection of Resistance By Very Low Levels of Antibiotics
Gerard Wright, M.G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research
Resistance-Guided Antibiotic Discovery