Overuse of Antibiotics in Livestock contributes to ABR trends

Farmers use antibiotics to ensure harmful pathogens like bacteria do not go on to live on the shelves of grocery stores and on the dinner table. While this may be comforting, there is an unfortunate overuse of antibiotics in livestock farming. This overuse contributes to the escalation of the ABR issue and can lead to infections of humans by resistant bacteria.

Livestock is often treated with antibiotics to prevent illness but overuse promotes an increased risk of ABR. The Beef Cattle Research Council explains that an antibiotic Metaphylaxis must often be used to combat respiratory illness with new feedlot calves due to high stress and confined spaces1. Antibiotics like these are often necessary to keep feedlot cattle healthy and prevent further transmission of bacteria to other cattle and even humans. Unfortunately, farmers often use antibiotics in a non-therapeutic matter. According to an article from the Union of Concerned Scientists, antibiotics are sometimes employed to fatten up livestock and increase feeding efficiency2. Antibiotics are also used liberally in a preventive manner in an attempt to prevent bacterial infection in livestock.

The overuse of antibiotics in livestock, like the over prescription of antibiotics in humans, fosters the growth of resistant bacteria. Irresponsibly deployed antibiotics in livestock farming promote the survival of resistant bacteria. These bacteria is often able to survive on the animals after they have been slaughtered and can even make their way to grocery stores and dinner tables. This can potentially lead to the infection of humans by drug resistant bacteria—infections requiring extensive time and therapy to treat.

How do we minimize the damage done by the use of antibiotics in livestock? Obviously the must be employed in some capacity to keep our food clean and healthy, but there must be methods in administering antibiotics responsibly and sparingly. The Beef Cattle Research Council advises farmers to follow certain measures that prevent ABR. Examples include treating infections promptly, obtaining the proper diagnoses before using antibiotics and ensuring the proper dose are given to the animals. The use of antibiotics in livestock must be monitored and better practices be put in place in order to deescalate ABR.


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