Summary of Reducing Antimicrobial Use in Food Animals

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In a Science magazine article, an international team of experts proposes ways to reduce the use of subclinical doses of antimicrobial drugs (including antibiotics) in livestock, a practice stemming from the rising demand for animal protein. The practice is responsible for drug-resistant infections in both humans and animals. Proposed strategies for a response include better enforcement of global regulations, user fees on veterinary antimicrobial use and reduced meat consumption. getAbstract recommends this article to anyone concerned with the spread of drug resistant infections.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Drug resistant infections in humans and animals are caused by the use of antimicrobial drugs;
  • Drug resistant infections are on the rise because of increased demand for protein; and
  • User fees on on veterinary use of antimicrobial drugs will reduce the incidence of drug-resistant infections.

About the Author

Lead author Thomas P. Van Boeckel is an epidemiologist who has served as a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute of Integrative Biology in Zürich, Switzerland, and more recently as a fellow at Princeton University in the United States. He works on the infectious diseases of animals and humans.



Subclinical [without clinical symptoms] antimicrobial drug use in livestock promotes antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

An international team of experts in health policy, veterinary medicine, agriculture and related fields has addressed the practice of treating farm animals with subclinical doses of antimicrobial drugs (including antibiotics and antifungals). The team notes that the practice has expanded in multiple countries in recent years, and goes on to explain that such an expansion spreads AMR. In 2016, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly highlighted livestock antimicrobial applications as a prime example of inappropriate antibiotic use and the leading cause of AMR. The practice can be blamed for the growing number of drug-resistant infections in both humans and animals.

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