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Animal antibiotic use may jeopardise human health

News Section Icon Published 26/06/2014

A new briefing from the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, which we are a founding member of, reveals the use of critically important antibiotics (CIAs) for human medicine are increasingly being fed to farm animals.

Whilst human medical use of critically important antibiotics is decreasing, use of these antibiotics for farm animals is increasing.

Globally, 50% of all antibiotics manufactured are used on farm animals.

Alison Craig, Campaign Manager for the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics said: “We want the Prime Minister to follow the lead of countries such as the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland, who are putting human health first. How? Well one way forward is to ban or phase out the routine preventative use of antibiotics in farming.”

Top international medical authorities, including the UK Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies, are warning that in a post-antibiotic age:

  • many cancer treatments will no longer be possible, because they suppress a patient’s immune system, leading to infections which are then treated with antibiotics;
  • routine surgical operations, such as caesarean sections, will have high mortality rates;
  • without antibiotics, the infection rate for total hip replacement operations is estimated to be 40-50 per cent, and 30 per cent of patients will die.

Antibiotic stewardship programmes in medicine have successfully brought down usage of CIAs, leading to reductions in rates of MRSA. But these gains could be undermined by increasing farm usage of CIAs.

Alison Craig continues: “The Alliance exposes a ‘business as usual’ attitude in government and the British intensive livestock industry, compared with dramatic achievements in other European countries in lowering farm antibiotic use.”

Take action

The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics have started a petition with 38 Degrees urging Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health to save our antibiotics by banning or phasing out the routine preventative use of antibiotics in farming.

Please sign and share the petition to ensure our antibiotics are saved for human use.


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