Microbial Ecology

Antimicrobial resistance in wildlife – potential for dissemination


Report no: 2018: 07

Published: 16.03.2018

Key message:

Antimicrobial resistance is found in the intestinal flora of wildlife throughout the world, concludes the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food and Environment (VKM) in an opinion.

The Norwegian Environment Agency asked the VKM for an assessment regarding the role of wildlife in dissemination of antimicrobial resistance. The VKM has reviewed more than 230 studies on antimicrobial resistance in wild animals.

Methodological differences

The studies revealed variation in the choice of experimental designs, sampling strategies, and methods for isolation and characterisation of antimicrobial resistance in wildlife. In most cases, resistant bacterial isolates were first characterised by cultivation-based methods. In some cases, genetic analysis based on known resistance determinants was also performed.

The large majority of studies describe point prevalences of AMR in a small wildlife population. The published studies rarely investigate development of resistance over time or space.

Direct comparisons between studies are difficult due to limited methodological coherence between studies, time of sampling, and the non-uniform methodological approaches and reporting. The degree of anthropogenic exposure is rarely addressed.

These shortcomings represent an obstacle for using these data to infer routes of transmission between habitats, wildlife, domesticated animals and humans.

Standardization and larger collaborative studies are needed to explore the epidemiological aspects of AMR in wildlife.

The Panel on Microbial Ecology is responsible for the opinion.

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