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Assessing the Risk of Antimicrobial Resistant Enterococcal Infections in Humans Due to Bacitracin Usage in Poultry.

Bacitracin is an antimicrobial used in the feed or water of poultry in the U.S. for the prevention, treatment, and control of clostridial diseases such as necrotic enteritis. Concern has been raised that bacitracin can select for antimicrobial resistant bacteria that can be transmitted to humans and subsequently cause disease that is more difficult to treat because of the resistance. The objective of the present study was to perform a quantitative risk assessment (QRA) to estimate the potential risk in the U.S. of human infection with antimicrobial resistant Enterococcus faecalis and E. faecium derived from chicken and turkey products as a result of bacitracin usage in U.S. poultry. The modeling approach estimated the annual number of healthcare-associated enterococcal infections in the U.S. that would be resistant to antimicrobial therapy and that would be derived from poultry sources because of bacitracin use in poultry. Parameter estimates were developed to be "maximum risk" to overestimate the risk to humans. While approximately 60% of E. faecalis and E. faecium derived from poultry were predicted to possess bacitracin resistance based on the presence of the bcrABDR gene locus, very few human-derived isolates possessed this trait. Furthermore, no vancomycin or linezolid resistant strains of E. faecalis or E. faecium were detected in poultry sources between the years 2002 and 2019. The model estimated the number of antimicrobial resistant E. faecalis and E. faecium cases per year that might resist therapy due to bacitracin use in poultry as 0.86 and 0.14, respectively, which translates to an annual risk estimate for E. faecalis of less than 1 in 350 million and for E. faecium of less than 1 in 2 billion for members of the U.S. population. Even with the use of risk maximizing assumptions, the results indicate that there is a high probability that the use of bacitracin according to label instructions in U.S. poultry presents a negligible risk to human health.

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