Besides resistance, recent work has shown that the use of oral antibiotics can reduce the diversity of the gut flora. Abnormalities of the gut flora are associated with multiple non-infectious diseases, including several autoimmune diseases and type II diabetes, according to Jeremy Nicholson of Imperial College, London, UK. Thus, alternatives to oral administration could likely mitigate these kinds of problems, as well.
Convenient alternatives to oral antibiotics might include transdermal administration via a patch, or other devices, says Wang.
Wang suggests that it should not be surprising that oral administration would abet the spread of resistance genes, since this route, unlike injection, directly exposes the humongous population of gastrointestinal bacteria to antibiotics. The resulting resistant microbes then get transmitted to the environment via the feces. From there, bacteria containing resistance genes once again gain entry to the food supply, via livestock, or via produce that has been exposed to manure from industrial livestock, as well as contaminated waste and soil, in a vicious cycle.
"Revealing this key risk factor is exciting because we have options other than oral administration, including convenient ones, for giving antibiotics," says Wang.
|Contact: Jim Sliwa|
American Society for Microbiology