Antibiotics usage in farm animals is rather heavy and extensive and has been a characteristic practice of farmers in Europe and North America for some time. Based on the health hazards that usage of antibiotics on livestock pose to human health, they should completely be banned from animal feed. A good number of pork, beef, and poultry eaten by humans have small levels of antibiotics. This is an outcome of efforts to improve quality, as well as quantity of farms output. The United States utilizes more than 29 million pounds of antibiotics in farm animals per annum, which accounts for 80 percent of the antibiotics used (Natural Resources Defense Council, 2012). Most drugs are given to animals to enhance their growth in factory farms. A factory farm is typical of U.S. production of livestock and comprises of animal keeping in high-density restriction. Systematically employing drugs in farm animals increases fears that this antibiotics administration has resulted in an increase in antibiotic resistant microbes and these can be unsafe to humans. The human bacteria may learn how to be resistant to more drugs since humans get exposed to small quantities of antibiotics in the meats as they eat. Antibiotics are utilized in animals and may aid the bacteria in resisting to that particular or similar drug utilized in humans.
Antibiotics occur naturally and man-made as well as semi- synthetic compounds of antimicrobial activity are utilized in veterinary and human medicine for treatment and prevention of disease. These compounds are also used in other functions that include growth enhancement in animals used for food. Bacteria can disseminate through animals, which are converted into food that are consumed by humans and may then lead to human disease. This is why use of antibiotics in farm animals, on top of growth enhancement ought to be banned. Resistance to antibiotic happens as survival of the fittest takes place with bacterial populations (Barton, 2000).
If the antibiotics fail to kill bacteria, these bacterial cells can increase and convey the genetic material to their progeny. Therefore, bigger antibiotics’ exposure, particularly when not necessary, will enhance resistance. Fears regarding the usage of antibiotics in farm animals associates with the drawbacks of the health of human and animal that arises from possible overexposure. The menace of resistance to antibiotic is real, even though some reason that the real danger appears small. Some call into question the measured harm this procedure brings forth. Promotion of growth through antibiotics needs only small doses. A number of antibiotics are utilized animals as well as humans, but the majority of the problems of resistance arise from human usage.
The usage of antibiotics in farm animals leads to a key basis for worry regarding the potential shift of resistance from animal to human microorganisms. Antibiotics are broadly utilized in medicine for treatment and prevention of human infection. The increasing usage of antibiotics in production of livestock results in the overexposure of animals’ microbes to these drugs. This allows the intestinal tracts of animals or other body sites to be colonized by microorganisms that have adjusted and accumulated antibiotics resistance. Attaining resistance calls for some kind of modification in the DNA of the bacteria either via spontaneous change or via gaining a new part of DNA, characteristically a plasmid. Bacteria classically develop resistance via a number of ways. Among these ways include modification of the intracellular target, which happens via spontaneous random DNA mutation in such a manner that the cell changes the protein at which the drug is planned to aim. Pumping out the antibiotic is another way of development of antibiotic resistance that happens because the bacteria have adopted new instructions in the DNA that permits it to impel the antibiotic to quit the cell. Alteration of the antibiotic to a safe form happens via the bacterial attainment of new DNA instructions that permit it to modify it to a harmless form.
Antibiotic resistant bacteria get three main ways from farms to humans. Among these ways is through food products where resistant bacteria stay in farm animals and their products during slaughter and processing. These organisms are then transmitted to humans who eat these products. The examples of such microbes include Salmonella and E. coli (Barton, 2000). Investigations on strains that are resistant to antibiotic have demonstrated that the food chain is the major transmission means. Environment is also a means through which microorganisms move from farm animals to humans. Bacteria are disseminated by farmland manure, polluting runoff as well as water (Iovine & Blaser, 2004). This leads to the small quantity of antibiotics that were present in samples of soil to find their way to the water. Direct transfer to sodbusters is the other means of transfer of microbes to humans, which happens when microbes such as Enterococci, for instance, are directly transmitted to farmers who work with animals.
The transmission of resistant bacteria from livestock to humans presents a health danger as a lot of the antibiotics administered to farm animals, like cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones, are similar drugs employed in the cure of human ill health like pneumonia as well as urinary tract infections. With time, as livestock bacteria have been progressively exposed to antibiotics like tetracycline or penicillin, additional resistance has worked up (Gilchrist, et al., 2007). While human guts that are healthy are infested with resistant bacteria, it renders antibiotics less efficient for human medicine. Hundreds of Americans lose their lives every year because bacterial infections acquired in hospitals, which are resistant to the majority of antibiotics. On top of being a concern in public health, resistance to antibiotics is also extremely expensive.
Avoparcin, which is an antibiotic that targets gram-positive bacteria is employed in the promotion of growth in livestock in European countries, is associated with the recent incidence of Enterococci that is resistant to vancomycin in livestock. This is a perfect demonstration that resistance can extend from animals to human beings. Avoparcin was utilized as an antimicrobial promoter of growth for livestock and afterward was recognized as the antibiotic vancoymycin, which treats hospital-acquired infections that are multi-resistant. This is chiefly concerning since this antibiotics class is used in the treatment of infections that resist the majority of commonly used drugs. Therefore, as they resist vancomycin, the infections have a tendency of not being virtually curable. Avoparcin was never permitted for livestock use in Canada and USA but was permitted in EU then banned later. The abolition of avoparcin usage led to a decrease in the levels of resistance in animals, food, and hence humans.
The key utilization of antibiotics in livestock is to combat bacterial infections as well as to enhance growth. These two uses are aimed at producing a healthier animals’ stock. Since human beings consume the majority of these animals, they are at a risk of being exposed to substantial amounts of the various antibiotics that the livestock eat. This has contributed to the development of resistant bacteria in human beings. Since concerns in regard of raising resistance to antibiotic, there have been several efforts to control usage. Since 1970's, Food and Drug Administration has been aware about misapplication of antibiotics in the agricultural sector yet nothing much has been done until of late. Beginning in 1970, a Food and Drug Administration task force in the United States advocated for some human antibiotics not to be administered in animals. Starting this point on, more data has become obtainable regarding the usage as well as effects of antibiotics in livestock and how it impacts human beings. As the European Union prohibited use of antibiotic for growth production in the year 2006, the Food and Drug Administration did not follow suit until early 2012.
Resistance to antibiotic is expected to reduce in occurrence as well as strength if use of antibiotic is reduced or continued (van den Bogaard, 2000). Majority of the antibiotics administered to animals belong to the same class as those employed in the treatment of human infections. As a number of people discuss the dispute that use of antibiotic in production of livestock is the sole cause of human resistance to antibiotic, it is definitely confirmed to be a major cause.
Barton, M. D. (2000). Antibiotic use in animal feed and its impact on human health. Nutrition Research Reviews, 13, 279-299.
Gilchrist, M. J., Greko, C., Wallinga, D. B., Beran, G. W., Riley, D. G., & Thorne, P. S. (2007). The Potential Role of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations in Infectious Disease Epidemics and Antibiotic Resistance. Environ Health Perspect, 115 (2), 313–316.
Iovine, N. M., & Blaser, M. J. (2004). Antibiotics in Animal Feed and Spread of Resistant Campylobacter from Poultry to Humans. Emerg Infect Dis, 10(6), 1158–1189.
Knox, R. (2012). How Using Antibiotics In Animal Feed Creates Superbugs. Retrieved April 2, 2013, from http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/02/21/147190101/how-using-antibiotics-in-animal-feed-creates-superbugs
Natural Resources Defense Council. (2012). Saving Antibiotics. Retrieved April 2, 2013, from http://www.nrdc.org/food/saving-antibiotics.asp
van den Bogaard, A. E. (2000). Stobberingh, Ellen E. Epidemiology of Resistance to Antibiotics Links between Animals and Humans. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, 14(4), 327–335.