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April 23, 2002

ANTIBIOTIC USE IN ANIMALS COULD LEAD TO RESISTANT DISEASE IN HUMANS

The widespread use of antibiotics in farm animals may hasten the appearance of antibiotic-resistant diseases in humans, according to a study published in the April 23, 2002, edition of the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences and reported by the Baltimore Sun. The Sun article says antibiotics are frequently given to farm animals to promote growth. For the study, the researchers created a mathematical model to analyze the factors affecting the prevalence of antibiotic-resistance in humans.

David L. Smith, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, was lead author of the study. He told the Baltimore Sun that he believes new antibiotics should be reserved for human use only, in order to prolong their effectiveness. Ellen Sibergeld, PhD, professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, was a co-author of the study. She told the paper humans could be exposed to drug-resistant bacteria from animals by eating meat or by coming into contact with animal waste found in the air and water.

PNAS article (subscription required)

Baltimore Sun article

Public Affairs Media Contact for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Tim Parsons @ 410.955.6878 or paffairs@jhsph.edu.