Post 3: Pathways of Resistance

In my mind, one of the greatest achievements of research is not only producing something that can be understood by the academic community, but by those who don’t have a PhD or Masters or even a Bachelors degree in the sciences. In this post I hope to break down the more complicated explanations I’ve found in the articles I’ve read to a clearer, simpler version of how antibiotic use in agriculture influences antibiotic resistance. I must admit, even this attempt at a “less complicated” version of the pathways of resistance will still be quite complicated. This is because there are multiple pathways that are all two-way streets so to speak. In total, there are four general pathways that the animal can interact with and resistant bacteria can move through. The first is the physical environment: soil, air, water, manure, et cetera. The second is the interactions that occur between animals: feeding, drinking, birthing, and general herd or flock behaviors. The third is the processing of the animal: shipment, slaughter, packaging, and storage. Finally, the fourth pathway is how humans handle the meat once it is purchased. Antibiotic resistant bacteria can be spread at any point along the route, making it difficult to separate what resistance antibiotics being fed to livestock caused, and what was caused by other sources. This is what I feel makes my research topic so difficult. Antibiotic resistance is dynamic in nature. What amount of resistance would occur naturally? What percentage of antibiotic resistant infections is caused directly by livestock rather than other sources? In other words, what is the true impact of agricultural antibiotic use? Without knowing this answer, we cannot begin to make decisions in policy or seek solutions to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. Nevertheless, I hope to present some possible options in future posts to lead us closer to that answer.

Post 2: From the Public Health Official’s Perspective

In my first blog post, I discussed the issue of antibiotic use in livestock from a farmer’s perspective. For the farmer, it boils down to economics. Antibiotics help to promote growth and limit infection. A healthy herd/flock leads to greater output which leads to greater profits. The issue becomes more complicated, however, when we view it from a public health official’s perspective. Health agencies such as the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all agree that antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest public health threats we currently face. There is also agreement about the fact that increased antibiotic use is directly correlated to increased antibiotic resistance. This is what leads our pubic health official down to the farm. The ultimate question is how antibiotic use in livestock impacts human health. The greatest concern is the transfer of resistant genes from the bacterial flora of livestock through meat to humans. The routes of transfer are extremely complicated and often confounded by other factors making the assessment of the public health impact far from simple. From the articles I’ve read, a third agreement surfaces: there is no consensus about the impact of antibiotic use in agriculture on human health. This is where my research really feels like research. There are conflicting ideas and conclusions, barely any consistent data collection techniques, and few articles from the last couple of years. Moving forward I have the goals of clarifying the routes by which resistance genes can move between livestock and humans, better quantify the amount of impact agricultural antibiotic use has on resistance, and possible courses of action for the future. Stay tuned!

Post 3: Community Based Participatory Research

As my research project comes to a close, I’d like to attempt to make some broad conclusions and tie together the concepts of health promotion and community capacity building one last time.  In previous posts I discussed the importance of using research as a link between capacity building and health promotion and examined the sociological concept of community. In this final post I would like to introduce a community based research method that unites concepts in these previous posts and in my opinion, is one of the most promising methods through which to conduct capacity building and health promotion in unison. This method is called community based participatory research, abbreviated as CBPR .

[Read more…]

Post 2: The Concept of Community in Health Promotion & Capacity Building

During the past month I’ve been writing, editing and rewriting my research paper, which focuses on the intersection between community capacity building and health promotion. The more I researched, it became clear that I’ve tackled a pretty huge topic that could take volumes to explain. So, I’ve decided to view my Monroe project as an introductory document that provides a simplified explanation of how health promotion and capacity building can be conducted in tandem. Cognizant of the fact that this is only a starting place for much more in depth investigations, it is important to frame my research in the right sociological context before continuing. Thus, in this post I’m going to discuss the concept of community and it’s relevance to capacity building and health promotion. I’ve used some information from people who can explain this more clearly than I, so excuse the citations.

[Read more…]