Antibiotics Given to Feed Animals
Except from London Times March 19 1998 BRITAIN
Resistant bug linked to animal feed drug
BY NIGEL HAWKES
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.