More than 400,000 Americans get sick every year from infections caused by antibiotic-resistant foodborne bacteria, according to CDC estimates. People who are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria may experience more severe illness, including hospitalization and death, because these infections can be harder to treat. Learn what CDC is doing and how you can protect yourself and your loved ones from these types of infections.
Antibiotic resistance is the ability of bacteria to resist the effects of an antibiotic. This means that bacteria are not killed by the antibiotic and can continue to grow. About one in five resistant infections are caused by germs, such as Salmonella and Campylobacter, from food and animals.
Improving antibiotic use can help slow antibiotic resistance.
Antibiotics are medicines that kill bacteria. They are extremely important in treating serious bacterial infections in people. However, bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics when these drugs are given unnecessarily to people or animals who don’t require them. Improving antibiotic prescribing and use is critical to ensure that bacteria don’t become resistant to antibiotics. Prescribers should only treat people and animals with antibiotics when they need them for medically sound reasons.
All humans and animals have bacteria in their gut. When they are given antibiotics, many of these bacteria are killed, but the resistant ones may survive and multiply. This is why the responsible use of antibiotics is so important in both humans and animals.
When animals are slaughtered and processed for food, the bacteria from the animal can contaminate meat or other products. Bacteria also can spread from animal feces (poop) to the environment, which can then contaminate soil and water used to grow fruits and vegetables. Food and the environment can get contaminated with bacteria in these ways, including with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.
People can get resistant infections by handling or eating raw or undercooked meat or produce contaminated with resistant bacteria. They can also get sick from contact with animal poop, either through contact with animals and animal environments, or through contaminated drinking or swimming water.
CDC is working to prevent infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria by:
There are steps you can take to help protect yourself and your family from antibiotic-resistant foodborne illnesses.