Is overuse of antibiotics on farms worsening the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria?
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of CBS News
Posted: February 9th, 2020
More than 12 million pounds of medically important antibiotics sold in this country are not for use in humans; they're for livestock. And the antibiotics are driving the spread of drug-resistant bacteria in the animals that can get passed on to us through food. Yet it's almost impossible to get on the farms to conduct inspections and stop infection outbreaks from spreading, even for public health officials. In 2015, Washington state epidemiologist Scott Lindquist investigated an outbreak of antibiotic resistant salmonella tied to roaster pigs. The salmonella was resistant to antibiotics. Lindquist traced the cause of the outbreak to a slaughterhouse. "We come in and we find the bacteria, essentially everywhere," [said Lindquist]. "So I want to go back to the farms and I wanna sample the pigs at the farm." But to his surprise, Lindquist, who was conducting the investigation, was flatly turned down. Thwarted, he says, by the National Pork Producers Council, the lead lobbying group for the $23 billion pork industry. They sent Lindquist a letter denying him access to the farms. Even federal inspectors have trouble getting on farms. They are not allowed on a farm to look for bacteria that make people sick without the farmer's permission. Farmers started using antibiotics decades ago ... to make animals grow faster with less food. In 2017, the Food and Drug Administration told farmers to stop using antibiotics in animals for growth purposes, but ... they are permitted to use them for disease prevention, and there are no reporting requirements.