from the deja-vu-all-before-again dept.
We've been told its all our fault that antibiotic drugs are losing the arms race to bacteria. We tend to over use the drugs, and the bacteria tend to develop immunity.
However, a story in Ars Technica suggests we aren't just one step ahead, we may actually be a couple steps behind the bacteria:
Genetic analyses of 288 bacterial isolates collected between 1911 and 1969 from 31 countries show that Salmonella developed resistance to an antibiotic several years before that drug even hit the market. The finding suggests that the diarrhea-causing bacteria were somehow primed to withstand the semi-synthetic antibiotic ampicillin before doctors could prescribe it in the early 1960s. Thus, overuse in humans didn't drive the emergence of that resistance.
Instead, the authors speculate that overuse of a related antibiotic—penicillin G—in animals may be to blame.
[...] "Although our study cannot identify a causal link between the use of penicillin G and the emergence of transmissible ampicillin-resistance in livestock, our results suggest that the non-clinical use of penicillins like [penicillin G] may have encouraged the evolution of resistance genes in the late 1950s," Weill said in a press statement.