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Abstract

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a health issue common to all One Health domains. Scientific understanding of what drives AMR and how it spreads is continually expanding. One such dimension of this expanding base of knowledge is the role wildlife populations play as reservoirs and spreaders of AMR. Indirect and direct sharing of resistant pathogens between wildlife and domestic animals occurs in a variety of ways across both the natural and built environment. Though AMR is found across much of the Earth’s biome naturally, elevated levels in wildlife are largely attributed to the use of antimicrobials in human and veterinary medicine, along with other uses of antimicrobials in human industry. On the basis of current research, wildlife species appear to be net recipients of AMR overall. However, wildlife can carry and spread AMR across individual ecosystems and to other ecosystems via water, soil, arthropod vectors, and several other routes of conveyance. In addition to creating potential health issues for wildlife animals themselves, this potentially poses risks for both companion and production animals. This is especially due to urban/suburban and rural wildlife, respectively. If health practitioners and other stakeholders are adequately aware, measures can be taken to reduce risks across each interface discussed. The companion Currents in One Health article by Vezeau and Kahn, AJVR, June 2024, addresses in further detail the many wildlife reservoirs of AMR that are currently identified, as well as directions for further research.

Open access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
Authors and

Abstract

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a serious health issue shared across all One Health domains. Wildlife species represent a key intersection of the animal and environmental domains. They are a relevant but understudied reservoir and route of spread for AMR throughout the environment. Most wildlife AMR research thus far has focused on avian species, terrestrial mammals, and a selection of aquatic and marine species. Pathogens often identified in terrestrial wildlife include enteric zoonotic organisms such as Eschericia coli and Salmonella spp, in addition to nonenterics such as Staphylococci. Resistances have been commonly identified to antimicrobials important in veterinary and human medicine, including β-lactams, tetracyclines, aminoglycosides, and macrolides. Our emerging understanding of the dynamics of AMR distribution across life on Earth provides further opportunities for us to assess the risk it poses to veterinary and human health. Future work will require prioritizing which wildlife most exacerbates and indicates AMR in domestic animals. However, decreasing prices and increasing ease for metagenomic sequencing allows for synergies with expanding wildlife viral disease surveillance. Improved understanding of how wildlife impacts veterinary and human healthcare may increase opportunities for related research funding and global equity in such research. The companion Currents in One Health article by Vezeau and Kahn, JAVMA, June 2024, addresses in further detail the routes of spread of AMR across different animal populations and actions that can be taken to mitigate AMR with special consideration for wildlife sources.

Open access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research