A new study has found that the antibiotic-resistant bacteria have become airborne and the cattle ranches in Texas could be the main source of the potentially hazardous microorganisms.
The researchers at the Texas Tech University analysed the particulate matter present in the air in order to find out both antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the samples that were taken downwind from the cattle ranches.
The probing team is highly concerned that this material could be carried by wind into areas with high population, which will obstruct the treatments for the potentially dangerous ailments. In the US, more than 80 percent of all antibiotics are used in cattle for lengthening the lives and improve yields.
For the study, the researchers examined 10 ranches that were located within 200 miles of the city of Lubbock. The samples were taken over a period of six months. The probe focused on feedlots along the Panhandle of Texas and the South Plains. The cattle present at these facilities are exposed to large quantities of antibiotics as they are fed well before they are brought to market.
Environmental toxicology researchers from the Texas Tech University said that the study is among the first to identify and quantify antibiotic-resistant genes and antibiotics linked with airborne PM emitted from beef cattle feed yards.
Nearly two million Americans are infected each year by the bacteria resistant to a wider range of treatments. Also, 23,000 die of the resulting diseases each year. According to the researchers, most cases of deaths from antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections occur in health care places, like hospitals and nursing homes.
Phil Smith, a researcher at the Texas Tech University, said, “We believe that this bacteria could remain active for a long period of time and, given the wind that we have around Lubbock, it could be traveling for long distances.”
The findings of the study were published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.