Antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest public health challenges of our time. International efforts to curb resistance have largely focused on drug development and limiting unnecessary antibiotic use. However, in areas where water, sanitation, and hygiene infrastructure is lacking, we propose that bacterial flow between humans and animals can exacerbate the emergence and spread of resistant pathogens. Here, we describe the consequences of poor environmental controls by comparing mobile resistance elements among Escherichia coli recovered from humans and meat in Cambodia, a middle-income country with substantial human–animal connectivity and unregulated antibiotic use. We identified identical mobile resistance elements and a conserved transposon region that were widely dispersed in both humans and animals, a phenomenon rarely observed in high-income settings. Our findings indicate that plugging leaks at human–animal interfaces should be a critical part of addressing antibiotic resistance in low- and especially middle-income countries.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics