Human health hazards from antimicrobial-resistant Escherichia coli of animal origin

Clin Infect Dis. 2009 Apr 1;48(7):916-21. doi: 10.1086/597292.


Because of the intensive use of antimicrobial agents in food animal production, meat is frequently contaminated with antimicrobial-resistant Escherichia coli. Humans can be colonized with E. coli of animal origin, and because of resistance to commonly used antimicrobial agents, these bacteria may cause infections for which limited therapeutic options are available. This may lead to treatment failure and can have serious consequences for the patient. Furthermore, E. coli of animal origin may act as a donor of antimicrobial resistance genes for other pathogenic E. coli. Thus, the intensive use of antimicrobial agents in food animals may add to the burden of antimicrobial resistance in humans. Bacteria from the animal reservoir that carry resistance to antimicrobial agents that are regarded as highly or critically important in human therapy (e.g., aminoglycosides, fluoroquinolones, and third- and fourth-generation cephalosporins) are of especially great concern.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Domestic / microbiology*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cattle
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial*
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects*
  • Escherichia coli / isolation & purification
  • Escherichia coli Infections / microbiology*
  • Escherichia coli Infections / transmission*
  • Hazardous Substances
  • Humans
  • Zoonoses / microbiology*
  • Zoonoses / transmission*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Hazardous Substances