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Antibiotic Use in Animals an Issue in Connecticut

October 11, 2010

HARTFORD, Conn. - Too many antibiotics being fed to livestock is a problem, even in Connecticut. That's according to opponents of the practice. They say that even as the government moves to regulate the routine use of antibiotics in animals raised for human consumption, the negative impacts on consumers show that much more needs to be done, because medical evidence has been found that such use has led to antibiotic resistance in humans.

Bob Martin of the Pew Environment Group is the former head of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production. He agrees that antibiotics should be used to treat sick animals, but should not go to healthy creatures.

"You shouldn't be giving these life-saving antibiotics, important for human medicine, antibiotics to animals on a daily basis, because they're overcrowded and live in their own waste."

The top animal health official in Connecticut says such routine drug use in animals helps keep them healthy, however. Although Connecticut is not known for having huge concentrations of animals raised for human consumption, State Veterinarian Mary Jane Lis points out that one operation in eastern Connecticut has 1.7 million laying hens. She says the number of drugs available to treat certain diseases in various species is limited.

"We want to make sure that whatever regulation that comes to pass does not eliminate access to the antibiotics we have."

Martin says the federal Food and Drug Administration has been studying the problem for years and recently came out with two guidelines that he calls "insufficient and ambiguous."

"We believe they will not reduce antibiotic use at all. The FDA has the authority to take more aggressive action in curtailing the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in food animal production."

Melinda Tuhus, Public News Service - CT