In July, a journal named PLOS ONE published a study led by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of North Carolina titled, “Livestock-Associated Methicillin and Multidrug Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Is Present among Industrial, Not Antibiotic-Free Livestock Operation Workers in North Carolina.”
The politicized, fear-mongering headline automatically caused me to approach the article with a healthy level of cynicism, and the first paragraph in the publication markedly increased my thinking that the 10 authors had some serious biases against the animal agriculture industry.
As I mentioned in my previous post, macrolides are part of human health, but they also are important to animal health, making up a sizeable portion of antibiotics used. It is my understanding that the use of macrolides in feedlot cattle, for instance, is a very effective preventive measure against liver abscesses. There are other FDA-approved uses of macrolides in animal health.
In 2011, macrolides accounted for approximately 4.3 percent of all antibiotics sold for use in animals.
It’s hardly surprising that many producers see their greatest frequency of bovine respiratory disease (BRD) cases in the winter. The transition to cold, wet conditions with large fluctuations in temperatures bring physical stress and closely packed herds where animals will hide their symptoms and share diseases. However, cold temperatures are no excuse to just treat, record and move on.
Is overlap of antibiotics used in both animal and human health a threat to humans? Maybe, but I will try and explain why I do not think it is near the threat that some opposed to modern agriculture claim it is.