Antibiotic Resistance, A New Threat to Health in the U.S.

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Most poultry and other livestock are fed a daily diet of low dose antibiotics in their food and/or water. Image by Mercy Animals.

Most poultry and other livestock are fed a daily diet of low dose antibiotics in their food and/or water. Image by Mercy Animals.

Antibiotics in our Food

Not only does prescribing antibiotics to humans increase the chance of resistance, but the antibiotics used for food animals also increases resistance in bacteria. Antibiotics are commonly used in the food of animals to prevent, control, and treat diseases as well as to increase the growth of the animal.

The CDC’s report states that  using antibiotics to increase growth in food producing animals is not necessary and should be phased out. About 80 percent of the antibiotics in the United States go to food animals, reports WebMD. The antibiotics, when added to the animal’s food and/or water, makes them put on more weight, even if they don’t eat more. Giving animals low doses of antibiotics over time can easily lead to drug resistant bacteria.

According to the CDC, antibiotics can remain in the meat and when not handled properly or cooked correctly, drug-resistant bacteria can spread to humans. The feces of animals can end up in fertilizer and in the water, when the water is used to for produce, the drug-resistant bacteria can remain on produce and then we eat it.

Antibiotic Resistance: Threatening Health

Antibiotics can save lives, and have a place in medicine, but when antibiotics are over prescribed, especially for the wrong reasons, it can lead to a resistance to these drugs, which makes it harder to treat illnesses. Antibiotics that are used in livestock’s food and/or water to increase their growth quickly are also contributing to this very large problem. Experts agree that infections that were once treated with a simple antibiotic can now be deadly. Is it time to reduce our use of antibiotics?

Resources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013. (2013). Accessed September 19, 2013.

CBS News CDC: Hospitals major source of antibiotic-resistant infections. (2013). Accessed September 19, 2013.

CBS News. CDC: 4 out of 5 Americans prescribed antibiotics each year. (2013). Accessed September 19, 2013.

Mayo Clinic. Antibiotic Misuse puts you and others at risk. (2012). Accessed September 19, 2103.

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