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Does antibiotic use in farm animals contribute to the spread of resistant bacteria?

Even though human medicine is currently considered by the EU to be the primary source of resistant bacteria in humans (EMA, 2018), antibiotic usage in animals is a key factor contributing to the wider range of resistance. Its effect is particularly pronounced in intensive animal production. The spread of resistant bacterial populations can be transmitted from animals to humans via direct contact between them, or through the food chain and the environment. Additionally, transmission can also occur through the introduction of animals from other farms.

Antimicrobial-resistant infections in humans can cause prolonged illnesses, increased frequency of hospitalization, and treatment failures that can prove fatal. Some types of bacteria that cause serious infections in humans have already developed resistance to most or all of the available treatments and we are quickly running out of treatment options. WHO recommends an overall reduction in antibiotics usage within food-producing animals to help preserve their effectiveness for human medicine.

Sources: Farm antibiotics, EMA, WHO, OECD