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Current Concerns About the Use of Antibiotics in Animals and Agriculture


Emily Heil, PharmD, BCPS-AQ ID, from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, discusses the concerns of antibiotic use in agriculture.
Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)
“There’s definitely a lot of concern about the use of antibiotics in agriculture because for one, it makes up such a huge proportion of our antibiotic use worldwide. So we think about the sheer tonnage of antibiotics used and somewhere between 70-80% is actually used in agriculture and not in human medicine. We’re putting forth a lot of effort to optimize appropriate antibiotic use in humans, but our efforts can only do so much to slow this antibiotic resistance crisis when there’s such a large volume being used in agriculture.
The main concern in agriculture is that they are not being used to treat infections. The vast majority of times they are being sold, over-the-counter and actually used in animal feed for the purposes of growth promotion. This sub-therapeutic dosing of antibiotics being used in these huge farms for tons and tons of animals is really driving the antibiotic resistance crisis and there are clear links between this antibiotic use in agriculture and some of the resistance we’re seeing in humans. It’s a big concern that we can only do so much on the human side if something doesn’t happen on the agricultural side.”
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