Stay Smart About Africa

A New Threat for Rhinos in Kenya

Scientists behind a study in a recent issue of New York-based academic journal EcoHealth found that the endangered animals in Ruma National Park, a protected area on shores of Lake Victoria, had developed alarming levels of antibiotic resistance. They appear to have become unexpected casualties of the global overuse of the drugs. Resistance to them is growing because people take the drugs for non-bacterial diseases; don’t finish drug courses, allowing bacteria to recover and adapt; and because many farmers overuse the medicines on livestock. Antibiotic use and abuse in Kenya has been rampant for decades, elevating levels of drug resistance among people, livestock and now wildlife. Resistance levels between rhinos and humans were comparable for four of the antibiotics. Rhinos were more resistant than humans for two of them. That’s a problem because rhinos – already under major threat from poaching – are susceptible to the bacterial disease bovine tuberculosis, researchers in South Africa’s Kruger National Park have found. Antibiotic resistance could make treatment harder.


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