1. Nontherapeutic use of antibacterial agents in animals has led to higher prevalence of multidrug resistant bacterial pathogens among consumers.
2. Children are susceptible to contamination with resistant bacteria through contaminated meat products, cross-contaminated fruits, vegetables and fish, and direct environmental exposure to animals.
Technical Report Rundown: Antimicrobial use and overuse has largely led to the existence of multidrug resistant bacterial pathogens. Hospitalization and treatment of these infections is costly, and illness from these pathogens carries high rates of morbidity and mortality. An American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) technical report published today highlights how resistance is cultivated in animal agriculture, the impact of resistant bacterial infections among US children, and how recent US and global efforts have been enacted to curtail this phenomenon. Many antimicrobials used in food animals are similar or the same as those used in humans, but often do not require veterinary oversight for use. These agents are used to treat sick animals, to prevent or control the spread of infections in animals that do not appear ill, and for growth promotion. The use of low doses of these antibiotics over prolonged periods of time leads to the elimination of susceptible organisms while selecting for resistant organisms. Meat products often contain traces of resistant bacteria and children can become exposed from the food supply, direct contact with animals, or via environmental contamination. Incidence of foodborne illness is highest in children under 5 years old and often include Salmonella, Campylobacter, and methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus. When tested, anywhere from 5-23% of bacterial pathogens were resistant to 1 or more first line antimicrobial drugs used to treat the infection in children. In response to rising rates of infection with resistant organisms, countries such as Denmark, Sweden and the United Kingdom have banned the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in food animals.
In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a phase-out plan for animal pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily change labeling practices, with the intended effect of eliminating non-medical antibiotic use in food animals. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) supports limiting the use of antibiotics in food animals for non-therapeutic purposes. In 2014, the US government, including Congress and the Executive office, took steps to eliminate the inappropriate use of antibiotics in the agricultural industry. In their technical report, the AAP concludes that antibiotics should only be used in food animals for therapeutic reasons, to limit the development of antibiotic resistant bacterial pathogens.
Relevant reading: Antibiotic resistance: Threat report 2013
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