Monday, December 10, 2012

Antibiotic Use in Cattle: Driving Antibiotic Resistance in Humans?
Here is a nice article published yesterday in the Kansas City Star that discusses antibiotic use in cattle and its potential effect on antibiotic resistance in humans. I have alluded to this connection in several previous posts; this article provides a comprehensive and balanced overview of this problem. 

Some highlights (my comments appear in italics):  

1) 80% of all antibiotics are used in animals; as antibiotic resistance in large part is related to the selective pressure of antibiotics on bacteria, efforts to combat resistance in humans have to account for the huge amount of antibiotics used in animal husbandry 

2) The beef industry can now bring a calf to slaughter in a little over a year, half the time this process used to take (this is attributed to genetics, antibiotics, growth promoters and hormones); see yesterday's post for comments on how antibiotics may be related to the obesity epidemic in humans

3) Antibiotic resistance in animals has been linked to human illness

4) There are significant barriers to addressing this issue

As outlined in this article, this is a complicated issue. However, to avoid entering the 'post antibiotic era' we need to aggressively preserve the antibiotics we have left-which means using them judiciously in both humans and animals. Articles such as this that raise awareness and provide balanced information are crucial. 

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