Protecting Human Health by Limiting Livestock Antibiotics
The Physicians Committee is urging Congress to protect human health by limiting the use of antibiotics for livestock through the Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act of 2013.
Livestock producers routinely administer antibiotics in feed and water to speed growth and maximize profits. But the overuse of antibiotics on farms contributes to growth of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
A recent article published by the American Society for Microbiology found that a strain of MRSA—or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus—came from cows. The authors believe that community-associated MRSA jumped from cows to farm workers more than 40 years ago and that animals on farms may be a reservoir for future pandemic outbreaks.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2 million Americans contract antibiotic-resistant infections annually. Of those, 90,000 die. MRSA, one particularly deadly superbug often found in factory-farmed animals and in workers, now kills more people every year than AIDS.
The Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences estimates that the annual cost of treating antibiotic-resistant infections in the United States is $30 billion.