A recent study has revealed that DNA from Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria which originated from American Cattle Yards have become airborne opening the possibility of the pathogens infecting humans and hamper treatment of life threatening infections.
It is a frightening scenario! Scientists collected airborne particulate matter from a dozen commercial cattle yards within the 200 mile radius of Lubbock, Texas over a period of six months. The sample was then analyzed and was found to contain bacteria and a “significantly greater” number of microbial communities containing Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria genes.
The authors, who are researchers in environmental toxicology at Texas Tech University and at a testing lab in Lubbock, said “To our knowledge, this study is among the first to detect and quantify antibiotics and antibiotic resistance genes…associated with airborne PM emitted from beef cattle feed yards.”
Co-author Phil Smith told the Texas Tribune that the bacteria could be active for a long time and “could be traveling for long distances.”
Phil’s colleague molecular biologist Greg Mayer said that the study‘s findings “made me not want to breathe.”
Antibodies are sparingly absorbed by the cows and a major portion is released into the environment through excretion. In the environment the bacteria undergoes natural selection and genes which would have acquired natural immunities will survive. These genes become airborne as the dry fecal matter turns dust like and are spread by wind which blows through the cattle yard.
This is not the first time that Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria have become airborne. A study in 2012 revealed that sneezing, coughing and shaking bedclothes in hospitals can make these superbugs airborne and infect other patients.
It is difficult to predict if these antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria could affect the nearby population. The Texas study was the first study which examined the possibility of these superbugs becoming air borne and possibly infects humans.