The groups from Finland and the UK are looking at gut flora from animal populations living close to, or isolated from, humans.
Monica Österblad of the National Public Health Institute, Turku, Finland and colleagues have responded to a 1999 Nature Brief Communication, by C. Anthony Hart and colleagues of the Centre for Comparative Infectious Diseases, Liverpool, UK.
"We found an E. coli population never exposed to humans, that is free of antibiotic resistance."
"The development of resistance may be the result of the human use of antibiotics", comments the Finnish team.
Österblad's group analyzed moose, deer, and vole feces in Finland. They cite as evidence their finding of an Escherichia coli population that has never been exposed to humans, and which is free of resistance to antibiotics.
"We agree that antibiotic restrictions should still be very much on the agenda," counter Hart's group, "but that agenda must include concerted attempts to understand what the consequences of restrictions are likely to be," they conclude.