Bacterial Pathogens from Animal Waste

Animal wastes applied to soil may be a potential source of pathogens and parasites. Besides, heavy loads of faecal pollution are common from outdoor feedlots where storm runoff may be equivalent to the discharge of raw sewage from a city (Geldreich 1990). Once drainage or runoff from animal production unit reach a watercourse, a potential chain for the spread of disease is initiated (Loehr, 1978). According to reports, the severity of diseases may be increased following manure application (Osunlaja 1990). Land application of animal effluent is associated with bacteria such as salmonella and Escherichia coli, while other organisms such as Bacillus anthracis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Clostridia spp. and Lptospira spp. can survive and be spread in effluent (Kelly and Collins 1978; Thurston-Enriquez, 2005; Unc and Goss, 2003).

It has been reported that there are an estimated 376,000 livestock operations in the United States, generating about 58 million tons of manure each year (Guber et al. 2007). According to the 1998 National Water Quality Inventory produced by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), approximately 60% of the pollution in rivers and 45% in lakes come from agricultural sources (EPA, 2001). Sixty-five outbreaks of human infections linked to water have been reported in the United Kingdom between 1991 and 2000 (Hunter, 2003), while 230 outbreaks have been reported in the United States between 1991 and 1998 (Croun et al. 2002).

Many bacteria in solid and liquid wastes from farm animals have been screened for resistance to antibiotics commonly used as growth promoters and/or therapeutically to treat diseases (Sarmah et al. 2006). In one study, 80% terramycin resistance was exhibited by solid waste isolates, with 30% terramycin and 100% sulfamethazine resistance shown by liquid waste isolates (Bromel et al. 1971). However, the risk from animal to human being is minimal, with the exception of those personnel of agriculture or slaughterhouses who are in close contact with the animals and may develop resistant strains of bacteria of animal origin. It must be noted, however, that clear evidence of development of antibiotic resistance transfer from animal to humans has not yet been reported.

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