Last Sunday the first week of antibiotic awareness ended. Did you know that 80% of antibiotics sold in the US are consumed by animals, even when they are not sick? It is common practice in the livestock industry to mix antibiotics in feed and water that is fed to chickens, pigs, cows and fish. This is much easier than providing better living conditions to prevent the animals from getting sick.

It all starts with our food:

  • Antibiotics are added to animal feed to prevent them from being sick.
  • The bacteria of animals develop a resistance to the antibiotics and mutate.
  • The drug resistant bacteria in the meat or fish is digested by humans
  • And spreads in the human population.

How to prevent antibiotic resistance:

  • Only use antibiotics that are prescribed to you by a health professional. They know best which drug is best to attack your bacteria. Antibiotics are only effective against bacteria. They do absolutely nothing against viruses.
  • Take the full prescription, even if you feel better. If you stop the treatment too soon, the bacteria can develop resistance to the antibiotic.
  • Don’t share your medications with others and don’t take antibiotics prescribed to others. Prescriptions are personal.
  • Wash your hands and avoid contact with people who are ill.

What can agriculture do?

Norway is a good example of how it can be done differently. Since 1980, Norway has a very flourishing fish industry with the explosion of salmon farming. Thousands of fish living closely together in captivity were affected by bacteria and at the time there was no vaccines available.

Many farmers began mixing antibiotics into the fish feed to prevent the fish from getting sick. This resulted in resistant bacteria, killing even more fish. Norwegian scientists recognized the need to save the country’s most important industry and developed a vaccine. By 1994, all fish farmers had switched to vaccination and adapted better hygiene methods to prevent sickness.

This story illustrates that it can be different, if only the agriculture industry is willing to cooperate. This is in everybody’s best interest.

Don't miss our page on Facebook!
Click to read more