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New Ad Campaign Asks D.C. Commuters 'Who's Hogging Our Antibiotics?'
Date:6/3/2009

Up to 70 percent of antibiotics are fed to animals on factory farms

WASHINGTON, June 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Who's hogging our antibiotics? That's the question a new advertising campaign is posing to area commuters and people visiting Capitol Hill.

The series of ads, revealed in D.C. Metro stations and trains this week by the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming (www.saveantibiotics.org), is part of the project's national effort to end the misuse of antibiotics in food animal production. Up to 70 percent of human antibiotics are being fed to animals on factory farms, which promotes the development of deadly strains of drug-resistant bacteria that can spread to humans.

"Human antibiotics are routinely misused on industrial farms to compensate for crowded, stressful and unsanitary conditions," said Laura Rogers, a project director with the Pew Health Group. "The way we are raising our food animals is putting human health at risk."

The ads can be seen in the Capitol South and Union Station Metro stops during June, as well as in Metro cars on the red and blue/orange line trains. A version of the ads will also be appearing soon online and in newspapers on Capitol Hill.

The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other leading medical groups agree that the growth of bacterial infections resistant to antibiotic treatment is a looming public health challenge. The groups also agree the misuse of antibiotics on industrial animal farms plays a significant role in this crisis. While antibiotics are prescribed to people for short-term disease treatment, these same critically important drugs -- like tetracycline, erythromycin and ciproflaxin -- are fed in low doses to large herds or flocks daily, often for the lifespan of the animal. This creates ideal conditions for the breeding of new and dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Here are the facts:

  • Up to 70% of U.S. antibiotics go to farm animals that aren't sick, to offset overcrowding and poor sanitation. This practice promotes the development of deadly strains of drug-resistant bacteria that can spread to humans.
  • Consumers are exposed to resistant bacteria through the handling and consumption of contaminated meat, through produce that has been exposed to resistant bacteria in soil and water, or even through direct contact with the bacteria in the environment.
  • Antibiotic-resistant infections cost the U.S. health care system at least $4 to $5 billion per year. One reason is the misuse of antibiotics on factory farms, which promotes the development of drug-resistant diseases.
  • Each year 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths occur due to people eating food contaminated by dangerous pathogens and bacteria such as Salmonella and E. Coli, which are often antibiotic resistant.
  • Food-borne bacteria are more dangerous in their antibiotic-resistant forms, because they are harder to treat and may require multiple antibiotic treatments, longer hospital stays and other interventions before finally being eliminated.

For more information and to see the new ad campaign, go to saveantibiotics.org.


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SOURCE The Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming
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