Scientists say Australia’s restricting of antibiotic use in food-producing animals may be linked with lower levels of drug-resistance among its citizens.

Government scientists say Campylobacter jejuni is a leading bacterial cause of foodborne illness in industrialized nations. Drug resistance can make Campylobacter infections difficult for physicians to treat, and can result in a higher risk of serious or even fatal illness.

Bacterial resistance to drugs is generally attributed to inappropriate prescribing or overuse of antibiotics. The Australian solution to the drug resistance problem has been to prohibit the use of certain antibiotics, called fluoroquinolones, in food animals such as poultry, reports Science Daily.

"There are different causes that lead to bacterial antibiotic resistance, and use of antibiotics in food animals is only one of the multiple causes," said lead author Leanne Unicomb, an epidemiologist with Australia National University. However, the evidence indicates "use of fluoroquinolones in food animals in other countries has increased the risk of resistance in Campylobacter isolates infecting humans," she said.