Antimicrobial resistance in wildlife – potential for dissemination: Opinion of the Panel on Microbial Ecology of the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food and Environment
AuthorNielsen, Kaare Magne; Gjøen, Tor; Asare, Nana Yaa Ohene; Lunestad, Bjørn Tore; Ytrehus, Bjørnar; Yazdankhah, Siamak Pour; Godfroid, Jacques; Jelmert, Anders; Klein, Joern; Okoli, Arinze Stanley; Tronsmo, Arne
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is recognised as one of the greatest public health concerns of our time. The development of AMR occurs in nature as a defence by microbes against naturally occurring antimicrobials. However, the selective pressure, generated by the use of antimicrobial agents in human and veterinary medicine, livestock and plant production as well as aquaculture practices, is the major driving force leading to the increased emergence and spread of resistance in bacteria. The sharing of common habitats and water resources could result in transfer of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria (ARB) between wildlife, foodproducing animals and humans. Bacterial populations with various transferable AMR traits are reported in wildlife, and wildlife is thus a well-established source of AMR bacteria entering the food chain both in meat and in foods of plant origin. The relative importance of such reservoirs and transfer routes of AMR in comparison to other sources leading to AMR development in pathogenic bacteria remains unclear.
The Norwegian Environment Agency (Miljødirektoratet) asked the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food and Environment (VKM) for an assessment regarding the role of wildlife in dissemination of AMR. The Norwegian Environment Agency would like VKM to give an opinion on wildlife and AMR:
- Identification of transferable AMR bacteria in wildlife (terrestrial and aquatic animals).
- Methods used for sampling and analysis of data in reported studies.
- AMR in bacteria in wildlife, according to their habitat (close to urban areas, rural areas, marine or freshwater environment or migratory).
- Possible routes of antimicrobial residues to induce ARB in the environment.
- Transfer of AMR bacteria between wildlife and other hosts, possible routes of dissemination of ARB to wildlife from domestic animals and vice versa, exchange routes of AMR between human and wildlife.
VKM appointed a working group, consisting of one member of the Panel on Microbial Ecology, one member of the Panel on Genetically Modified Organisms, one external member, and VKM staff to prepare a draft Opinion. The Panel on Microbial Ecology has reviewed and revised the draft prepared by the working group and approved the Opinion document. In this opinion, we summarise the majority of research conducted on AMR in wildlife, identify knowledge gaps and areas of uncertainty, and explore the interfaces between wildlife, domestic animals, and humans in the context of resistance emergence, persistence, and transmission.