Saturday, July 13, 2024

Pros And Cons Of Antibiotics In Livestock

Cons Of Taking Antibiotics

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  • If you take antibiotics often, your body can build a resistance to antibiotic drugs, which could cause antibiotics to become less effective.
  • The longer the course of treatment for an antibiotic, the more damage that can be done to the bodys immune system.
  • Some antibiotics can have side effects, from digestive issues to bone damage to sensitivity to sunlight. Make sure to read the fine print that comes with your medicine, so that you know the risks.

Inappropriate use of antibiotics is creating a huge threat to the health of our communities, says Jennifer R. Boozer, DO, a family medicine physician at Keck Medicine of USC and clinical associate professor of family medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. By taking antibiotics when we do not need them, we increase the chances of bacteria becoming resistant to the medication and then, when we really need it, those antibiotics will not be effective. This can lead to an increase in hospitalizations, due to the need for IV antibiotics, or even increased chances of death.

It is important that you protect yourself and your family, by only taking antibiotics that are prescribed to you, when your doctor advises you to do so, expresses Boozer. Sharing antibiotics or taking leftover medications from a previous illness is never advised.

Antibiotics And Use In Food Animals Part 2


In part one of our four-part series on antibiotics, food blogger Alice Choi spoke with an expert about antibiotic resistance. While we know that the discovery and use of antibiotics represents one of the greatest human and veterinary medical advances in history, recent concerns about overuse have people wondering about the impact on human health of use of antibiotics in animals raised for food. For answers on antibiotic use in livestock production, Alice visited with Jeff Bender, DVM, MS, DACVPM, with the Center for Animal Health and Food Safety at the University of Minnesota.

Antibiotics are medications that we used to actually treat ill animals, Dr. Bender said. It also could be used to prevent disease, so when we mix a group of animals together just like we mix children together at a daycare, theres a chance for disease transmission to occur and sometimes those could be bacterial. And so treatment, prevention and control are really the main ways that we use antibiotics.

He explained that antibiotics are given to animals by farmers or ranchers under the supervision of a veterinarian.

Veterinarians are critical in working with the farmer if he needs to make decision about what dose, how frequently it needs to be given and then more importantly, working with a farmer about what we call the withdrawal period the time from when you stop antibiotics to the time that the animal can actually go into the market system, Dr. Bender. said.

Origin And Spread Of Resistance Genes

Some resistance genes originate from soil microorganisms. These organisms have evolved to resist the antimicrobial agents naturally produced by bacteria and fungi and from which manmade antimicrobial drugs were originally derived. Nevertheless, blaming nature as the cause of resistance suggests a total misunderstanding of the fundamental processes by which some of these genes have since evolved. Many have become established on promiscuous genetic elements because of the widescale use of antimicrobial drugs. Others have developed de novo and have then been mobilized. However, bacteria in the natural environment may harbour resistance genes derived from human and animal use of these drugs. For example, indigenous soil inhabitants of a wide variety of bacterial species acquired tetracycline resistance genes from the groundwater near sewage lagoons from two pig farms . Such resistance genes could, in turn, be acquired by human and animal bacterial pathogens, and would be expected to emerge if people or animals were exposed to tetracycline. The complex ways in which resistant bacteria can flow between humans and animals and be “expanded” by antimicrobial drug use in different settings are illustrated in Figure 2.1. This figure depicts how resistant organisms or genetic elements can be spread among populations of bacteria, animals or humans by direct contact, or via secondary sources such as water, food, or fomites.

Figure 2.1: Epidemiology of antimicrobial resistance ).

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Using Less Wont Harm You

If doctors prescribe fewer antibiotics for colds, coughs and ear infections, it will not put people at risk for more serious infections, and may actually help people by minimizing the side effects often seen with the class of drugs. Thats the conclusion of a study led by researchers at Kings College London , UK. They analyzed patient records from 610 general practices in the UK from 2005 to 2014. Medical offices that prescribed fewer antibiotics for respiratory tract infections did not have higher rates of serious bacterial complications, the researchers reported. Reducing the proportion of consultations with antibiotics prescribed by 10% is expected to be accompanied by some 2,000 fewer antibiotic prescriptions for each practice over 10 years, the researchers, led by Martin Gulliford, PhD, a professor of public health at KCL, wrote. However, results showed that clinics prescribing fewer antibiotics had slightly higher rates of pneumonia and quinsy , though they could both easily be treated with antibiotics once identified. But this only accounted for once case a year for every 7,000 patients. Even a substantial reduction in antibiotic prescribing was predicted to be associated with only a small increase in numbers of cases observed, and this would be expected to reduce the risks of antibiotic resistance, the side effects of antibiotics, and the medicalization of largely self-limiting illnesses, the researchers noted.

Antimicrobials Used In Feeds

Agriculture Facts

Several antimicrobial drugs are approved for use in feeds in Canada, either by themselves or in combination with other agents . Although the ionophores are excluded from the table they have antimicrobial activity.

Table 5.3: Antimicrobials used in feeds in Canada

Name of Antibiotic Compound
Sulfamethazine 38 49 67

International concerns and controversies surrounding the use of growth promoters in foodanimal production warrant a more detailed discussion of this practice.

Benefits of growth promoters

Livestock and poultry producers are interested in any practice that promotes animal growth or an increase in productive efficiency. The following benefits are claimed:

  • Increased productive and feed efficiency, thereby improving producer margins and yielding cheaper foods for consumers. A shortened days-to-market interval, thus lowering interest costs and allowing more productive cycles per unit of time
  • Increased efficiency of feed yields less waste and potentially reduces the environmental impact and,
  • Reduced incidence of disease .
  • Reports in the scientific literature suggest that under experimental conditions, improvements of 1 – 15% in weight gain or feed efficiency may be realized . Although gains in weight and feed efficiency may be small on a per-animal basis, the net effect across an entire industry may be quite large . The response may be dependent on a number of additional variables such as animal age, sex, diet, health status and vaccination regime.

    Approved products

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    Prevention And Treatment Of Animal Diseases

    With intensive animal production, bacterial and parasitic diseases became more and more frequent. According to an estimate, 80 types of bacteria, such as Escherichia coli, Salmonella, and Clostridium welchii, posed a serious threat to poultry industry. Mastitis, caused by Staphylococcus aureus in dairy animals, led to a loss of $2 billion/year in the United States of America and an average cost of â¬485/dairy cow in the EU during 2012 . Due to infection caused by Streptococcus pneumonia, morbidity and mortality rates in calves increased to 40 and 20%, respectively . More than 50% of aquatic animals were infected by bacteria each year . Vibrio vulnificus became a potential health hazard for aquatic animals and human beings .

    Approximately, 2169 parasites including 203 protozoa, 373 trematodes, 150 tapeworms, 404 nematodes, and 1030 arthropods have been found in livestock and poultry in China. About 4â20 billion dollars/year were lost due to parasitic diseases caused by coccidia, nematodes, ticks, and others in USA . Acute outbreaks of chicken coccidiosis paid a loss of 42 million pounds annually in the United Kingdom . In China, poultry industry had to face billions of dollars annual loss due to almost 100% chicken morbidity by coccidiosis . Sheep helminthiasis led to a loss of 2.22 million dollars annually in Australia .

    Problems Associated With The Use Of Antibiotics

    Using antibiotics too often or for the wrong reasons can change bacteria so much that they no longer work in combating certain infections, even the most powerful antibiotics available. This is called bacterial resistance or antibiotic resistance and in these cases infections are harder to treat than those caused by non-resistant bacteria. Resistant pathogens in animals may transmit to humans through antibiotic residues present in products from treated animals and cause symptoms, such as vomiting, nausea, bloating, indigestion and abdominal pain, with higher treatment costs, prolonged hospital stays and increased mortality.

    Antibiotics may also affect soil function and plant composition. In soils exposed to the manure of antibiotic-treated animals negative effects on the micro-organisms involved in normal soil processes are seen, such as nitrification and organic matter decomposition. When corn, potatoes, lettuce and other crops used for human consumption are planted, there is an uptake of antibiotics by the plant tissues, reaching a concentration of about 0.1 to 1.2 ppm on a dry weight basis. Although such concentrations are not toxic, over time this may increase the development of antibiotic resistance in humans consuming these crops.

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    Animal Health And Welfare

    Respondents were asked how they thought RWA production impacts animal health and welfare. Across all five commodities, most RWA and Conventional respondents believed that RWA production would slightly worsen or significantly worsen animal health and welfare . Within the broiler, beef, and swine responses, significantly more Conventional respondents believed that RWA production would negatively impact animal welfare than did RWA respondents there was no statistically significant difference between Conventional and RWA dairy respondents. Among RWA respondents, producers perceived less of a negative impact on animal health and welfare than did veterinarians. Conventional veterinarian and producer perceptions were more aligned, with both believing that the animal health and welfare impact would be more negative than the beliefs of their RWA counterparts.

    Figure 1. Respondents’ opinion about impact of RWA production on animal health and welfare. Five-item Likert scale reporting respondents’ opinion, stratified by commodity and RWA experience.

    Respondents were asked for their perception of customer opinions regarding how RWA production impacts animal health and welfare. The perception of the majority of RWA and Conventional respondents was that their customers believe that raising animals without antibiotics would slightly improve or significantly improve animal health and welfare . This perception did not differ between RWA and Conventional respondents.

    Analysis: Regulatory Gaps And Related Issues

    Pros and Cons of Animal Testing

    Safety standards, criteria and assessment methods

    The lack of specific plans to manage the risks associated with antimicrobial resistance transmitted from food animals and the lack of credible, scientifically valid methods and criteria to assess the safety of veterinary drugs with respect to antimicrobial resistance and human health are serious deficiencies within Health Canada assessments. Canadian regulatory authorities are not as active and effective as they should be in addressing these deficiencies, either nationally or internationally.

    Without scientifically sound methods for safety assessment, it is impossible for Health Canada to completely and objectively analyze the health risks associated with antimicrobial resistance. Without a safety standard that equates specifically to antimicrobial resistance, it is impossible to objectively judge whether any current or future use of antimicrobials in animals warrants regulatory action. Without sound methods and criteria, it is impossible for the informed public to know what the rules are. It is also important that Health Canada provide timely approvals of new antimicrobials that can be used legitimately and safely in animals. This is in the public’s interest because the lack of safe and effective drugs is a prime motivator for extralabel use, a use pattern for which there is much less assurance of safety.

    External expertise and advice

    Jurisdictional and enforcement issues

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    Imagining The Post Antibiotics Future Summary

    IS THE POSSIBILITY OF POST-ANTIBIOTICS REAL? Imagining the Post-Antibiotics Future is an essay written by Maryn McKenna to emphasize focus on our lack of appreciation for what antibiotics have done for us and will continue to do for us, but only if we let them. She presents a very insightful and eye opening argument. She relies heavily on a very personal story as well as many facts and research to create such a convincing argument. McKenna begins her essay with recalling a time in which she found out about the death of her great-uncle due to a very infection.

    Current And Proposed Practices In Other Countries

    The World Health Organization’s Global Principles for the Containment of Antimicrobial Resistance in Animals Intended for Food outlined the importance of veterinary undergraduate, postgraduate, and continuing education on preventive medicine, prudent antimicrobial use and antimicrobial resistance, as well as the need to evaluate the effectiveness of educational strategies for prudent use . The WHO also emphasized the need to educate producers and stakeholders about prudent-use principles, as well as about the importance of optimizing animal health through disease prevention programs and good management practices. The WHO also described the need to develop guidelines on prudent use of antimicrobials in animals in a multidisciplinary, peer-reviewed manner. This is happening. For example, in the U.S., the American Veterinary Medical Association has coordinated efforts by each of the major species-specific national veterinary associations to develop and publish prudent-use guidelines.

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    Antibiotic Usage On The Farm

    It has been known since the late 1940s that feeding sub-therapeutic concentrations of antibiotics to livestock causes them to grow bigger, faster, and less expensively . The mechanism of this effect remains unclear after more than 60 years. Recent evidence from mice suggests that the effect may be due to alterations in the intestinal microbiota, resulting in decreased extraction of calories from food by the bacteria, leaving more available to the host to absorb . Still, this mechanism was established in lab mice, and it remains speculative whether this is the same mechanism by which the effect occurs in livestock. Nevertheless, there is evidence that feeding antibiotics to livestock can sometimes cause a growth-promoting effect.

    In Western Europe, efforts have been undertaken over the past 10 to 20 years to curb antimicrobial growth promotion and prophylactic antibiotic use in livestock . Such efforts have been largely impossible in the United States because of politics. Even as the United States has continued to experience the growing crisis of antibiotic resistance over the last 15 years, the weight-adjusted amount of antibiotics purchased for use in livestock has increased by approximately 50 percent . It is striking that U.S. livestock production uses twofold to eightfold more antibiotics than comparable countries in Western Europe .

    Your Role In Combating Antibiotic Resistance

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    Clearly this is a jigsaw puzzle that requires a group effort to solve. Patients including you have a part to play, and evidence is mounting that many people do understand the issue and want to reverse it. Im optimistic and enthused that the public is taking notice of antibiotic resistance, says Dr. Ostrowsky. It gives me hope.

    Echoing that optimism is Dr. Newland. While top-level changes among hospitals, physicians, researchers and pharmaceutical companies are necessary, theres a lot consumers can do to help reverse the trend, he says.

    Take the following points as your new Do I need antibiotics? gospel:

  • Remember: Sniffle, sneeze, no antibiotics, please. If you have a viral illness, such as the common cold or the flu, accept that there isnt a drug that will cure it.
  • Be mindful of how you discuss your symptoms with your doctor. Physician surveys find that doctors are more likely to prescribe antibiotics when patients use diagnostic language compared to when they describe their symptoms . Even if youre not expecting or hinting around for an antibiotic prescription, your busy doctor may misread your intent and give you one anyway all in the name of patient satisfaction.
  • Ask about alternatives. If your doctor says Lets take a wait and see approach, ask about alternative remedies to try while waiting (nasal lavage? Humidifier? Acupuncture and be open to trying them.
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    Uses Of Antimicrobials In Food Animals In Canada: Impact On Resistance And Human Health

    Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada

    Dear Ms. Kirkpatrick:

    The Advisory Committee on Uses of Antimicrobials and Impact on Resistance and Human Health has completed the tasks assigned to it and is pleased to submit its report. The committee encourages Health Canada to make the report publicly available as soon as possible.

    As described in its terms of reference, the committee focused on providing information relevant to reducing the potential resistance and human health and safety impacts associated with animal uses of antimicrobial agents. This included the identification and prioritization ofrelevant issues surrounding antimicrobial uses and their contribution In resistance. The committee determined that actions should he taken to better protect the health and interests of Canadians. Accordingly, it made 38 recommendations for Health Canada, or in some cases , for Health Canada’s partners in provincial governments, veterinary professional organizations or industry.

    Committee members represented a broad range of expertise and stakeholders. The report is a consensus opinion that may not always represent the position of every member s organization or affiliation.

    On behalf of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to address this part of the complex problem of antimicrobial resistance in Canada.


    Scott McEwen D.V.M., D.V.Sc. Diplomate ACVP Professor and Committee Chair

    Antibiotic Use In Livestock

    Antibiotics are an important tool for cattle producers to ensure the health of their animals, says the Animal Health Institute , a trade association for animal health product manufacturers. All antibiotics used in food-animal production undergo stringent review by FDA to ensure a safe food supply for the end consumer, AHI says, adding that these products have three basic purposes for use in livestock disease treatment, disease prevention and performance enhancement.

    We typically think of antibiotics used as performance enhancers as being fed at a somewhat lower dosage and for a longer period of time than for disease treatment, says Gay Miller, a University of Illinois veterinarian who has studied the impacts of antibiotic use in swine production.

    This technology has improved beef cattle’s overall efficiency to utilize feed and other resources, has enhanced the health and reproduction of cattle, and improved their welfare, states the report Fifty Years of Pharmaceutical Technology, by Tom Elam and Rod Preston.

    Miller adds the benefits also include lower costs to consumers as a result of the improved efficiency.

    But, antibiotic resistance has become an issue of increasing global concern in food animal production especially in regard to resistant strains of Campylobacter, E. coli and Salmonella.

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