Antibiotics do have their place on the farm: in the treatment of sick animals. When drugs are used in therapeutic doses, they are less likely to produce resistance to antibiotics. The problem is when cattle or poultry are given low doses of antibiotics on a regular basis.
"The combination of the frequent use of antibiotics and the conditions in which animals are raised produces a favorable environment for the development and proliferation of superbugs," explains Rangan.
Medications can kill the weaker bacteria in the animals' digestive tract, leaving a handful of strong survivors breeding. These bacteria, as well as certain antibiotic residues, are eliminated in the excrement, which is the perfect medium for the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Cattle feedlot. The animals coexist along with their excrements, bringing on the proliferation of bacteria
Over time, colonies of almost indestructible superbodies are eventually formed. "On industrial farms, animals live literally in the midst of their own excrement," says Rangan. So the bacteria are in the skin or the skin of animals, and when they are slaughtered they can contaminate the meat we eat. And bacteria, as Rangan goes on to say, continue to reproduce and spread resistance to other bacteria in the animal's excrement, and can reach our environment if the waste is not handled correctly. The problem lies not only with the bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Once resistant bacteria are found in the environment, they can mix with other bacteria and exchange genetic material, which could help add even more antibiotic-resistant infections in hospitals and communities.What most worries experts is the use of antibiotics that are usually given to human patients or are similar. For example, tetracyclines are used in humans, but some types are for primarily veterinary use.If bacteria develop resistance to veterinary drugs, they may also become resistant to tetracyclines that are used in humans. And so, when resistant infections appear, doctors have limited options for treating them. For example, the salmonella strain that sickened Ken Koehler was resistant to 9 of the 15 antibiotics that the CDC tested to fight it while investigating the outbreak of that bacterium.Also of concern are antibiotics exclusively for veterinary use. A group of antibiotics called ionophores, which are given to animals, are usually not relevant in the treatment of human patients. However, there is a possibility that its long-term use may make human medicines problematic. And its use in animals allows it to continue to breed cattle and birds in overcrowded conditions, where the bacteria reproduce easily.
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