In my first blog post, I discussed the issue of antibiotic use in livestock from a farmer’s perspective. For the farmer, it boils down to economics. Antibiotics help to promote growth and limit infection. A healthy herd/flock leads to greater output which leads to greater profits. The issue becomes more complicated, however, when we view it from a public health official’s perspective. Health agencies such as the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all agree that antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest public health threats we currently face. There is also agreement about the fact that increased antibiotic use is directly correlated to increased antibiotic resistance. This is what leads our pubic health official down to the farm. The ultimate question is how antibiotic use in livestock impacts human health. The greatest concern is the transfer of resistant genes from the bacterial flora of livestock through meat to humans. The routes of transfer are extremely complicated and often confounded by other factors making the assessment of the public health impact far from simple. From the articles I’ve read, a third agreement surfaces: there is no consensus about the impact of antibiotic use in agriculture on human health. This is where my research really feels like research. There are conflicting ideas and conclusions, barely any consistent data collection techniques, and few articles from the last couple of years. Moving forward I have the goals of clarifying the routes by which resistance genes can move between livestock and humans, better quantify the amount of impact agricultural antibiotic use has on resistance, and possible courses of action for the future. Stay tuned!
Post 2: From the Public Health Official’s Perspective
July 14, 2015 by