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Published April 15, 2013, 10:21 AM

Antibiotics and animals

ATHENS, Ga. — Farmers and ranchers share consumer concerns about antibiotic-resistant bacteria and are continuously improving herd health practices to minimize risk.

By: Charles L. Hofacre, Agweek

ATHENS, Ga. — Farmers and ranchers share consumer concerns about antibiotic-resistant bacteria and are continuously improving herd health practices to minimize risk.

About a third of livestock antibiotics used today are not used at all in human medicine. And in accordance with the Food and Drug Administration’s Guidance 209 and 213, antibiotics important to human medicine used for growth purposes will be eliminated from farm use within three years.

There is no proven link to antibiotic treatment failure in humans because of antibiotic use in animals for consumption — a critical point that is often missed. Antibiotics are used judiciously under veterinary guidance and FDA guidelines, and are primarily used to treat sick animals or prevent illness.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antibiotic-resistant diseases with the greatest effect on human health, such as the contagious staph bacteria MRSA, are spread by human-to-human contact. No clinical case of MRSA in a human related to livestock has been identified in the United States.

Let’s keep this dialogue focused on the facts, and lose the hyperbole and fear-mongering.

Editor’s Note: Hofacre is a professor of veterinary medicine at the University of Georgia, a member of the Center for Food Safety and an adviser to the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance.

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