Antibiotics Given to Feed Animals

Except from London Times March 19 1998 BRITAIN

Resistant bug linked to animal feed drug


A CLEAR link between the use of antibiotics in animal feed and the emergence of "superbugs" in hospitals has been established for the first time. Doctors have repeatedly warned of the danger but proving it has been more difficult. Excessive use of antibiotics in medicine, rather than in animal feedstuffs, is often blamed for the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of common bacteria.

Now gene tests on bacteria in the gut of people, pigs and chickens have shown that resistance to one particular antibiotic has moved from animals to humans. The new studies, carried out by Henrik Wegener of the Danish Veterinary Laboratory, suggest that a common type of bacterium found in the intestine developed resistance to vancomycin, a widely used antibiotic, when a similar drug was used in animal feed. Antibiotics are given in animal feed because they typically increase animals' growth rate by 5 per cent. Dr Wegener now believes that antibiotics should be banned as growth promoters.