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The Mandate for a Global “One Health” Approach to Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance
The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Saturday, February 16, 2019.

The Mandate for a Global “One Health” Approach to Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance

Siddhartha Thakur1, **Gregory C. Gray2 Affiliations: 1 College of Veterinary Medicine, NC State, Raleigh, North Carolina; 2 Division of Infectious Diseases, Duke Medicine, Global Health Institute, and Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

*Address correspondence to Siddhartha Thakur, College of Veterinary Medicine, NC State, 1060 William Moore Dr., Raleigh, NC 27606. E-mail:  

Authors’ addresses: Siddhartha Thakur, College of Veterinary Medicine, NC State, Raleigh, NC, E-mail: Gregory C. Gray, Division of Infectious Diseases, Duke Medicine, Global Health Institute, and Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham, NC, E-mail:

Publisher: The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Source: The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Volume 100, Issue 2, Feb 2019, p. 227 - 228 DOI: or

In 1940, one year before the first administration of penicillin in man, two members of the team who discovered the drug revealed that resistance to penicillin already existed.1 Since then, as antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has progressed in the wake of exponential antimicrobial use, scientists have raced against extraordinarily efficient microbial gene dissemination and evolution to provide effective antimicrobial therapeutics. Today, with the existence of genes resistant to every natural and synthetic antimicrobial compound, national surveillance systems track AMR in human and animal populations to deepen our understanding of resistance and find ways to circumvent it. Although we have established surveillance systems across North America and Europe, pathogens do not respect international boundaries, and the emergence of resistance in any country poses a worldwide threat. In this issue of the AJTMH, Hedman et al.2 report spillover of AMR to developing world settings with no prior history of agricultural antimicrobial use. We are reminded that surveillance must become a global “One Health” effort if we are to solve one of today’s most significant threats to human, animal, and environmental health.

Antimicrobial resistance has reached its tipping point, and some are saying we are now in the post-antibiotic era. Recent reports have highlighted this trend, including the emergence of multiple plasmid-mediated colistin resistance genes in human and animal pathogens,3 spread of metallo-beta-lactamase-1 in India,4 and the emergence of plasmid-mediated carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae in swine for the first time in the United States.5 Leading world health agencies consider the threat of AMR as paramount and recognize its complex causation: expanding human and domestic animal populations; increased globalization, international trade, and demand for animal source foods; and all-too-easy access to antimicrobials in both developed and developing countries. The proficiency of genome evolution via horizontal gene transfer and the emergence of new forms of resistance have compounded the lack of new antibiotic discovery and development, while intensifying the threat posed by drug-resistant pathogens. By 2050, an estimated 10 million human lives per year will be at risk if we fail to attenuate the rise of drug resistance, and critical medical procedures such as administration of cancer chemotherapy, joint replacement, and gastrointestinal surgery may be associated with increasing morbidity.6 The increase in AMR burden correlates with a 65% increase in antimicrobial consumption in humans between 2000 and 2015 in 76 countries7 and administration of 63,000 tons in animals in 2010, with a projected 67% increase in consumption by 2030.8

Antimicrobial resistance poses a particularly significant threat to low- and middle-income countries. This is due not only to the health-care challenges these countries face, but also to an increase in small-scale intensive animal production, exacerbated by poor sanitation infrastructure. The findings reported by Hedman et al. in this issue exemplify this problem and the difficulty of understanding the complicated dynamics of AMR transmission between humans and animals sharing the same environment. The researchers investigated the prevalence of CTX-M extended-spectrum beta-lactamases in chickens from small-scale poultry farms and in children living on the farms in rural Ecuador. CTX-M-mediated cephalosporin resistance was seen in bacteria both in commercially bred “broiler” chickens treated with high levels of antibiotics and in free-grazing animals that had no direct exposure to antibiotics. Resistance was also detected in bacteria from children in the community. After phylogenetic analysis, the authors reported a shared evolutionary history between chicken and human samples. Hedman et al., thus, provide valuable insight into the rise of phenotypic resistance and avian-to-human spillover in areas that have previously reported low AMR levels in both poultry and humans.

Altogether, the data provided by Hedman et al. support a familiar narrative: gene exchange is a property of bacteria that efficiently enables the transmission of resistance between animals and humans. Of particular importance to surveillance systems, the study also highlights the pivotal role of the environment in AMR transmission. The ability of the environment to act as a reservoir for resistance is not a new concept and may have promoted the potential spillover event described by Hedman et al. in Ecuador. Indeed, the environmental AMR resistome consists of more than one million distinct bacterial species, which markedly exceeds the number of species that infect human and animal populations.9

Despite the knowledge of environmental influences on AMR, current surveillance systems often neglect environmental sampling. It is now crucial that we re-emphasize the role that the environment plays as a reservoir and in maintaining AMR genes as we establish surveillance systems to combat AMR. We know that many of the resistance mechanisms we see in veterinary clinics and animal production systems likely have environmental origins. Recently, we have reported horizontal dissemination of resistance determinants in multiple Salmonella serotypes across commercial swine farms following manure application.10 In addition, numerous studies have reported very little difference in the shedding of drug-resistant bacterial strains between animals raised under organic or antimicrobial-free production systems.1114 Combined with studies such as that conducted by Hedman et al., these findings demonstrate the need to apply a One Health approach and study environmental reservoirs more closely, rather than focusing only on the resistance that arises following antimicrobial administration.1518

Importantly, combating AMR will also require global cooperation because decreasing the use of antimicrobials only in one population or in one country will not necessarily attenuate the spread of resistant strains. Collignon et al. conducted a multivariate analysis based on antimicrobial consumption data from 63 countries to determine the role of anthropological and socioeconomic factors in the global spread of AMR.19 At the country level, the authors suggested that improving sanitation, ensuring good governance, better access to clean water, increasing expenditure on improving public health care, and better regulation of the private health sector were all required for reducing AMR. Factors including poor sanitation, warmer temperatures, and higher corruption levels were consistently associated with a higher prevalence of AMR strains. Without harmonizing surveillance between nations, we will never know the extent of the AMR challenge, nor will we be able to combat it effectively. We are already taking strides to ameliorate this problem. In 2015, the World Health Organization launched the Global AMR Surveillance System (GLASS) to establish a standardized GLASS. So far, 40 countries are participating,20 and by collecting and analyzing AMR, epidemiological, clinical, and population-based data from these countries, systems such as GLASS can generate actionable data, improve analysis, influence policy decisions, and ultimately reduce the burden of AMR worldwide.

**Dr. Gray is a member of the One Health Initiative team’s Advisory Board


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UKRI 'One Health' AMR research priorities showcased in Parliament
Cambrige Network
Thursday, February 14, 2019.

UKRI 'One Health' AMR research priorities showcased in Parliament

The UKRI Cross-Council AMR Initiative and Stephen Metcalfe MP, Chair of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee and member of the Science ...

One Health Happenings! - February 13, 2019
One Health Commission
Wednesday, February 13, 2019.

One Health Happenings! - February 13, 2019

Advancing Legislation on ‘One Health’ in the United States of America
One Health Newsletter, Volume 11, Issue 1, January 2019
Tuesday, February 12, 2019.

Advancing Legislation on ‘One Health’ in the United States of America

One Health Newsletter, Volume 11, Issue 1, January 2019, Advancing Legislation on ‘One Health’ in the United States of America ( 

MediLabSecure Supports One Health concept...
Thursday, February 07, 2019.

“One Health network for the prevention of vector-borne diseases around the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions”

Supports One Health concept...

One Health Newsletter, Volume 11, Issue 1, January 2019
Kansas State University, College of Veterinary Medicine, Manhattan, KS (USA)
Monday, February 04, 2019.

Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS 66506 (USA)
College of Veterinary Medicine


One Health Newsletter

One Health Newsletter Volume 11, Issue 1

The One Health Newsletter is a collaborative effort by a diverse group of scientists and health professionals committed to promoting One Health. This newsletter was created to lend support to the One Health Initiative and is dedicated to enhancing the integration of animal, human, and environmental health for the benefit of all by demonstrating One Health in practice.

The theme of this issue is One Health Regulation and Policy. All of the articles below display exciting applications of the One Health concept. This issue of the One Health Newsletter was written by professionals, post doctoral associates, and graduate/veterinary students with the assistance of our faculty editorial board and guest contributors. ...”

Please see

DUKE (USA) One Health Team News - Issue 11 February 2019
Friday, February 01, 2019.


ISSUE 11 February 2019

                     SEE COMPLETE ISSUE:  


Recent Publications


Dr Thakur with his students

The Mandate for a Global 'One Health' Approach to
Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance

In January 2019, Dr. Siddhartha Thakur of North Carolina State’s College of Veterinary Medicine drafted an editorial highlighting the importance of a One Health approach in reducing the burden of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The editorial, published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, gave examples of how complex factors at the human, animal and environmental interface all contribute to the spread of AMR, a threat which is not contained by social or geographical boundaries. Dr. Thakur argues that surveillance for AMR in our increasingly globalized world must be a harmonized international effort.   

Read more


Pandemic Response Box launched by MMV and DNDi
Outbreak News Today (Press Release) - January 29, 2019
Wednesday, January 30, 2019.

Outbreak News Today

Pandemic Response Box launched by MMV and DNDi

by Press Release - January 29, 2019

“...The Pandemic Response Box is one of several MMV and DNDi open science projects, which encourage collaboration and transparency in drug development research. MMV and DNDican provide advice, support and additional compound quantities to help researchers follow up on interesting findings.

 [calling this a “One Health” approach would be fitting]

A Psychiatrist, a Veterinarian, and an Emergency Physician Resolve to Improve Mental Health
Psychiatric Times
Saturday, January 26, 2019.

A Psychiatrist, a Veterinarian, and an Emergency Physician Resolve to Improve Mental Health


Dr Moffic is an editorial board member and regular contributor to Psychiatric Times. He was a tenured Professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Currently, Dr Moffic is focused on three major advocacy initiatives: physician burnout, climate change, and Islamophobia. Dr Gaspar is a veterinarian at Veterinary Information Network, Chicago,IL. Dr Levin is Chair, Wellness Section, American College of Emergency Physicians, Milwaukee, WI.

Between animal and human medicine there are no dividing lines—nor should there be.

–Rudolf Virchow, MD, father of cellular pathology

On the shortest day of the year in December 2018, the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) daily featured a dark subject about the suicide rate in veterinarians, also reported in the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association1 Both the field of psychiatry and veterinary medicine have in common our concern for our own suicides.2 Indeed, a few days later, on Christmas Eve, Medscape Psychiatry reported its top news article for 2018: “NYU Resident, Medical Student Die by Suicide 5 Days Apart.”3

A terrible truth of student suicides is that those who start medical school and residency are generally psychologically healthy. One can deduce, then, that educational systems themselves factor into suicides.4 Veterinarians and physicians, including psychiatrists, have the highest rates of suicide of any professions and higher than the general population. The paradox is that we are all devoted to healing, yet the ultimate vessels of our well-being—our lives—are being lost by our own hands.

Moreover, suicide is the tip of the iceberg of our personal psychological distress and disorders. Our mutual professions have higher rates than the general population for clinical depression, epidemic rates of burnout, and related problems. Those healers with the most compassion seem most at risk for burning out.5 No wonder quality-of-care suffers.

For the public, the prevalence of mental disorders has increased to over 20%, and most never receive any effective treatments. Outside of formal diagnostic disorders, a host of other public psychological problems are cause for concern.6 These include the fact that over half of adolescents already have had a significant life trauma; cosmetic surgery procedures are booming, perhaps as a response to body dysmorphia; rates of xenophobia and related prejudices (ie, racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia) are rising; people are suffering mental repercussions of climate instability; technology is being overused and misused; and our society is pervasively lonely.

The American Psychiatric Association Foundation, the funding arm of the APA, called for “A Mentally Healthy Nation for All” in 2018. However, simple math suggests that we are moving toward mental dis-ease.7

Historically, beyond a general altruistic calling, many believed that those who chose to be veterinarians, psychiatrists, or other kinds of physicians, were often doing to so to address some traumatic and/or inspiring medical or psychological experience in their childhood. For veterinarians, that would likely involve beloved animals. That emotional tie to the past could leave us vulnerable to frustration in helping our patients. Such frustration results more and more from the systems we work in that have become more corporate and business-oriented, with the consequence of controlling how we practice, decreasing our empowerment, and providing obstacles for our ability to heal and fulfill our callings. ...

Read Complete article as originally published in Psychiatric Times

*Dr. Moffic is a One Health Supporter  

Permission to post/publish on One Health Initiative website granted January 25, 2019 by:

Laurie Martin, Senior Digital Managing Editor - Psychiatric Times | Neurology Times - UBM Medica LLC, a part of Informa PLC - 535 Connecticut Avenue, Suite 300 - Norwalk, CT 06854 USA - Phone: 203.523.7109 | E-mail: - | | - Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn Group | Google+ My LinkedIn Profile | My Twitter Profile

Pirbright researcher part of new 'One Health Poultry Hub'
The Pirbright Institute
Wednesday, January 23, 2019.

Pirbright researcher part of new 'One Health Poultry Hub'

By taking a 'One Health' approach the Hub recognises that human, animal and environmental health are inter-related, and so collaborative, ...

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