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Evidence supports ban on growth promotion use of antibiotics in farming
Date:11/15/2011

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Current practices set the stage for the rapid spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria

  • The long-term administration of antibiotics in animal feed creates an optimal environment for antibiotic resistance genes to multiply. Essentially, treated animals become "factories" for the production and distribution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as Salmonella and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a troubling infection that is resistant to common antibiotics.
  • Bacteria can transfer antibiotic resistance to other bacteria, and multiple different resistance genes can be linked together in this process. Thus, even if farmers turn to antibiotics that are not commonly used to treat people, these drugs given over long periods of time can also promote resistance. Several studies demonstrated that antibiotic-resistant bacteria can easily spread from animals to people in close contact with animals, such as veterinarians, slaughterhouse workers, farmers, and the families of farmers.
  • As much as 90 percent of antibiotics given to livestock are excreted into the environment. Resistance spreads directly by contact and indirectly through the food chain, water, air, and manured and sludge-fertilized soils.
  • The broad use of antibiotics in fish food in farm fishing, particularly overseas, leads to leaching where it can be washed to other sites, exposing wild fish to trace amounts of antibiotics.

The consequences of antibiotic resistance are great

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antibiotic-resistant infections cause longer and more expensive hospital stays, and greater risk of death. Each year in the US antibiotic-resistant infections result in $20 billion in additional health care costs and $8 million in costs in additional hospital days. If antibiotics are ineffective, patients may end up paying more in search of alternative drugs, and enduring a wider range of
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Contact: Siobhan E. Gallagher
617-636-6586
Tufts University, Health Sciences Campus
Source:Eurekalert

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