Canada - Study looks at antibiotic use in cattle

Date of publication : 11/17/2004
Source : CFCN
A lot of antibiotics are used by the cattle industry. They are used to prevent and cure disease and to keep cattle healthy in feed lots. A five year study, funded by the beef industry, looked into the effect of those drugs on humans. The study has found the antibiotics are not passed on through the meat. "My concern is that if we are seeing diseases that are difficult to treat because of resistance that are arising from an agricultural setting then that's important to know." said Dr. Ron Read of the University of Calgary's Faculty of Medicine. The study of the cattle industry identified one area of concern. Feed lots have become a reservoir for one particular strain of Ecoli that is resistant to broad spectrum antibiotics. A Halifax study found 4 per cent of ground beef carried this bacteria. But beef fared better than poultry. 50 per cent of chicken in that study was infected, which could cause problems if spread to humans. "For example, if Ecoli with that mechanism caused a kidney infection and you used the standard treatment of kidney infection you might get a treatment failure." said Dr. Read. The cattle industry believes beef is safe to eat. Producers say most problems with meat come from improper handling or cooking. "I think that what we have here with the treatment regime and with our production methods and practices that there's no cause concern." said Larry Helland, a cattle producer. Ecoli is not necessarily dangerous, but certain strains can become toxic and even kill people. Dr. Read said further study is needed to find out how dangerous this strain can be, and what measures cattle producers can take to control it.
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