Livestock antibiotics a 'threat to humans'

The heavy use of antibiotics in livestock farming is a threat to human health, warned UK government's chief medical officer, reports the Yorkshire Post.

"Every unnecessary prescription written by a doctor, every uncompleted course of antibiotics and every inappropriate or unnecessary use in animals or agriculture is potentially a death warrant for a future patient," Sir Liam Donaldson wrote in his annual report.

Use of antibiotics encouraged resistant bugs to flourish at the expense of less aggressive strains and cut the range of medicines still working – and the pharmaceuticals industry did not make new antibiotics fast enough to keep up, said Donaldson.

"The potency of one of the key weapons in the medical armoury is being eroded. The harm caused by each prescription is not visible at the time so society fails to take action," he added.

Campaigners against industrialised farming picked up on his call for a clampdown on antibiotics use and reportedly quoted it in a letter to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, in the course of drawing attention to a new strain of the "superbug" MRSA.

The Soil Association and Compassion in World Farming argue that an MRSA bug, known as ST398, has been transmitted to humans from pigs reared in intensive conditions in the Netherlands.

Source: Yorkshire Post

Related links:

The Soil Association

Compassion in World Farming

Natalie Berkhout

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