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21.11.2017 |

Stop using antibiotics in healthy animals, WHO urges farmers

We must discourage livestock rearing practices that depend on antibiotics (Photo: CC0)

Farmers and the food industry should stop using antibiotics to promote growth and prevent disease in healthy animals, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned. On November 7, the global health body published new guidelines with the aim of preserving the effectiveness of antibiotics that are important for human medicine. According to WHO, the over-use and misuse of antibiotics in animals that are otherwise healthy is contributing to the rising threat of antibiotic resistance. It is not the first warning of that kind: As long ago as 1997, WHO warned against the sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock production, as the development of resistant strains of bacteria made diseases untreatable with antibiotics. Some types of bacteria that cause serious infections in humans have already developed resistance to most or all of the available treatments, and the problem is that there are very few other promising options in the research pipeline. “Scientific evidence demonstrates that overuse of antibiotics in animals can contribute to the emergence of antibiotic resistance,” says Dr Kazuaki Miyagishima, Director of the Department of Food Safety and Zoonoses at WHO. “The volume of antibiotics used in animals is continuing to increase worldwide, driven by a growing demand for foods of animal origin, often produced through intensive animal husbandry.” In some countries, approximately 80% of total consumption of medically important antibiotics is in the animal sector, largely for growth promotion in healthy animals. [+] more ...

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