Introduction

For over fifty years, antimicrobials have been used in food-animal production to maintain animal health and to increase productivity. The resulting increase in antimicrobial resistance among enteric bacteria has created two principal concerns: 1) The prevalence of drug-resistant pathogens leaves the producer with fewer tools to manage disease; and 2) a reservoir of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria has the potential for transmission to humans via the food chain. The most logical intervention strategy to combat the increase in antimicrobial resistance is to reduce selection pressure by limiting the availability and promoting prudent use of antimicrobial drugs, but such measures may not be effective, because linkage of resistance genes allows a single selection pressure to coselect for resistance to multiple agents. Thus, simultaneous reductions of all coselecting agents may be required to reverse the persistence of antimicrobial resistance. This necessitates the development of alternative, nonantimi-crobial methods to maintain animal health and productivity. This article reviews some of the intervention strategies that are being developed as alternatives to antimicrobials for the control of enteric pathogens in food animals. The application of alternative pathogen control measures will decrease the total usage of antimicrobial drugs and should reduce antimicrobial resistance among enteric bacteria in food animals.

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