Drug Resistance Blamed on Antimicrobial Overuse in Livestock

We routinely discuss the dangers of <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/defective_drugs">antibiotic misuse and overuse and how these practices are directly linked to antibiotic resistant diseases that can wreak havoc on the body. We also recently wrote about the link between the ongoing treatment of farm animals with low antibiotic doses and how that has directly contributed to wide-spread drug resistance.

Science Daily, citing an editorial published in Student BMJ this week, writes that this unnecessary dosing of antimicrobials in livestock has created resistant disease strains, which damage the health of animals and humans. Jørgen Schlundt and colleagues at the National Food Institute in Denmark say that this routine dosing can be significantly minimized while enabling profits to be maintained.

Just last week, we wrote that the National Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC), the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), Food Animal Concerns Trust, Public Citizen, and the Union of Concerned Scientists, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to put an end to the ubiquitous use of antibiotics in animal feed, saying that this dangerous habit is adding to the issue of drug resistance and superbugs. The lawsuit does not call for change in antibiotics usage for ill animals.

The groups ask the FDA to ban the nontherapeutic use of penicillin and tetracyclines in animal feed and to respond to prior petitions seeking this withdrawal concerning other antibiotics, said Switchboard. Pointing out that about 70 percent of the antibiotics used in the United States are actually used in farms to increase animal growth and offset filthy living conditions, the group explained that, because livestock is treated with very low doses of the potent drugs, diseases are not being treated, but bacteria are encouraged to remain, growing more and more resistant. This practice has enabled, and continues to enable, bacteria to outsmart antibiotics and to survive, thrive, and strengthen so that existing drugs are powerless against their eradication.

Significantly, Student BMJ said, “Resistant bacteria can spread from animals to humans, mainly through the food chain.” Student BMJ noted that three of the four newly emerging bacterial infections in human beings were found to originate in animals: Avian influenza H5N1, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and Salmonella.

Last week, we also wrote that, according to Switchboard, other countries stopped using antibiotics for growth enhancement while maintaining stable food prices and increased production. Denmark, the world’s largest exporter of pork, banned antibiotics in animal feed over 10 years ago; now, the government and industry data say the country has seen a well-maintained decrease in general antibiotic use and drug resistance.

A number of global groups propose actions such as reducing antibiotic use in animals, especially of those drugs considered “critically important” to human health; the European Union began monitoring resistance in livestock and antibmicrobial use in its member states, steps that already occur in Denmark, which has followed increasingly stronger mandates since 1995, said BMJ Student.

What’s more, the more stringent rules do not lead to reduced productivity, as is evident in Denmark where its productivity is at record highs. “We have major tasks ahead for global containment of resistance, in relation to both veterinary and human medicine…. Antimicrobials are too precious to be wasted, and both sectors have plenty of room for improvement,” the authors wrote. “Substantial reduction of antimicrobial use in livestock is feasible and necessary if we want to preserve the power of antimicrobials for future generations of both animals and humans,” the authors conclude, quoted BMJ Student.

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