The Effects of the Use of Antibiotics on Both Humans and Animals

Since 19405, antibiotics have played a crucial role in protecting the lives of both humans and animals. They have worked well in saving the lives of millions of human beings Unfortunately, however, inappropriate use of these very antibiotics, threatens their efficacy and undermines their roles. This inappropriate use includes their administration in small doses, for purposes other than disease treatment. The aftermath of the inappropriate use in the modern animal food industry has led to resistance to antibiotics, by microbes that are supposed to die by them.

These resistance microbes pose a major health challenge to these food animals, and the health risk is transmitted to human being and eventually to the environment. Because of the public health risks associated with antibiotic resistance, there is contention between the use and ban of antibiotics as supplement on animal feed.

There is a push, from the medical experts and public concern stakeholders to bring to an end, the use of low doses of medically important antibiotics The reason for this push is to slow down the development of antibiotic resistant microbe strains that are a major challenge to human health.

Antibiotics belong to a category of drugs called antimicrobials. These drugs function to kill harmful bacteria to avoid their deleterious effects to the human body. There are many types of bacteria and they are found everywhere, including the digestive system. While the bacteria are critical in normal body function, some of them are harmful and have destructive effects to the human body, Antibiotics function to kill such harmful bacteria from the body, Antimicrobial is a general term that refers to drugs that kill unwanted microbes in the body.

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Industrial farms play a major role in food security to all nations.

Their profits and gains increase when the level of production goes high. To increase the level of production therefore, farmers have been striving to adopt new ways of increasing production. Since 1946 when studies confirmed that antibiotics make animals to grow faster, increase their health and weight at the same time increasing production, addition of antibiotics in animal feed has risen over years. Today, antibiotics are routinely fed to food animals to increase production and compensate for the unsanitary conditions to which they are kept. According to FDA report, about 80% of antibiotics produced are used in animal feeds Antibiotics in animal feed The use of antibiotics in animal feeds dates up to about fifty years ago since their discovery, not only as anti- microbial agents but also as agents that promote growth and improvement in production. Several antibiotics soon became additives, common additives to feeds for livestock and poultry.

These antibiotics include tetracycline, penicillin, bactrican, and streptomycintoday, several antibiotics are used in poultry and livestock feed. Among others, they include procaine penicillin, chlortetracycline, tylosin, bacitracin, streptomycin, neomycin sulphate, erythromycin, linomycin, oleandomycin, virginamycin, and bambermycins. Mainly antibiotics originate from microbiaL In addition to these, however, are chemically synthesized antimicrobial agents that are also used as additives in feeds. They are from three major class of compounds; arsenic, nitro»furan and sulfa compounds, Compounds of arsenical origin include 3-nitro-4-hydroxy phenylarsonic acid, arsalinic acid and sodium arsanilatet Antibiotic compounds base on nitro-furan include furazolidone while thise based on nitro-furazone include sulfamethazine, sulfaquinozile and sulfathiazole. In addition to the chemical bases antibiotics used in poultry and livestock, other chemicals are used in poultry for prevention of infections, Anti-protozoal agents, for instance, are used to prevent coccidiosis and histomaniasis in chicken and turkey Antibiotics are used regularly in animal feed.

The antibiotics used regularly are mainly for the purpose of improved ‘performance in the animal. They are given at a rate of 2 to 50 grams per ton. These antibiotics function to increas e growth rate, lower general mortality to the animals and enhance the conversion of feeds into animal products. When there is a specific disease being targeted, the amount is usually increased to 50 — 200 grams per ton. This increase is especially when a particular disease is rampant, The levels of antibiotics in feeds are also increased during times of stress, but when the threats are gone, the levels are reduced to normal. Prevention and treatment of animal diseases Bacteria and parasitic diseases become more rampant with intensive animal production. Subject to estimation, eighty different types of bacteria cause a huge threat to the poultry and livestock industry. This risk is overly expanded by the large-scale type of poultry and livestock farming that is mostly done, which poses a very great risk to loss should there be loses due to disease caused by bacteria and protozoa.

Such bacteria which cause the worst threat to the poultry industry include Escherichia coli, Salmonella and Clostridium welchiit Mastitis for instance, caused by Staphylococcus aureus in dairy animals, cause a huge loss of up to two billion dollars per year in the United States, and an average loss of up to 485 pounds per dairy cow in the European Union in 2012 (Heikkila et all, 2012) Streptococcus pneumonia has been lethal in increasing the level of mortality in calves, minimizing the projected animal population and thus negatively affecting the projected level of production in the future. In approximation, 2169 parasites, among which are 373 trematodes, 203 prorozoas, 404 nematodes, 150 tapeworms and 1030 arthropods have been found in china, All these are threats that farmers face in their line of production and they are risks which they must eliminate in order to ensure a healthy crop of livestock and ensure a high level of production.

A lot of funds are used in treatment of animal and poultry diseases, which could in fact be saved by prevention of such diseases. In 2010, about twenty billion dollars were lost due to parasitic disease caused by coccidian, nematodes and ticks in the United States. Over a hundred microbial have been used in food producing animals around the world They play an important role in prevention, treatment and control of food animal disease. Prevention of humans against zoonosis Among the parasitic and infectious diseases among animals, more than two hundred can affect human beings Among others, they include Salmonella spp, E coli 0157, Campylobacter spp, Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Aeromanshydrophila. During animal husbandry and normal operations around livestock and poultry, human beings come in contact with the poultry and livestock and this poses a risk to human life. They are susceptible to such diseases and parasites that affect both human beings, livestock and poultry.

To an extent, antimicrobial agents guarantee food security and public health to humans by controlling animal diseases and preventing transmission of zoonotic pathogens from animals to humans When antibiotics are added to feeds and drinking water, they could significantly decrease bacteria contamination in animal products, Virginiamycin, for instance, decreases contamination of Clostridium petfringens, Campylobacter spp, and other food- borne pathogens in animal carcasses Enhancement of animal production Since the 19505, antibiotics have been used to enhance production, Chlonetracycline, deoxycycline and sulfonamides help in growth promotion in calves, pigs and chicken, Cunha, from Universsity of Florida, reported that penicillin in fermentation mixture helped in growth promotion for food animals.

Since then and up to present, the antibiotics have been used to improve production and most poultry and livestock farmers use them in increasing production The role of antimicrobials for the improvement of feed conversion ratio, animal growth and reproductive performance has been observed in many different animals, through increasing diet digestibility and feed utilization efficiency. Effects of the antibiotics has on animals When antibiotics have been fed on animals, they kill the microbes that are within the animals and protect them from illnesses. Over a period of time, however, they retain a strain of these microbes that are resistant to the antibiotics. These resistant microbes increase with time and create a colony of resistant microbes, Resistance to drugs is caused when the microbes mutate into forms that cannot be affected by the drugs due to continuous intake. Mutated microbes have a selected advantage over non-mutated ones.

When drugs are administered, all microbes are killed, except for the mutated ones. The mutated ones thus grow and that is how they create a colony of resistant microbes. Resistance to drugs makes such animals vulnerable to infections from these organisms without the benefit of treatment with the antibiotics that the microbes are resistant to. This effect is passed on to human beings through the consumption of these animals, and exposure to fecal matter and intestinal flora. Transmission of such resistant microbes to human beings causes a very high risk to human life.ln addition, exposing the resistant bacteria to the environment poses a high risk to all plants and animals in the environment. Administering drugs to animals through their feeds also creates dependency. Due to the continuous presence of the drugs in the immune system of the animals, the normal body systems and mechanisms are weakened.

Usually, adaptive immunity becomes stronger with exposure and resistance to illnessesr Since all the antibiotics are ever available to the body of the animal, the immune system does not develop and thus becomes week. This dependency is also significant in the level of production and growth rate. In an event that there is lack of supply or reduced supply of these antibiotics to the animals, there immune system is highly compromised and they are susceptible to death In addition, their level of production significantly drops. Implication on human consumption FAO data shows that livestock production is growing rapidly and so is the demand for livestock products Consumption of these products is also growing, according to FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) statistics Subject to statistics, with more consumption of animal products, with over 80% of farmers using antibiotics as food additives, the effect of resistance is catastrophic.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, it is estimated that every year, livestock farmers in the United States use 24.6 million pounds on antimicrobials for non- therapeutic purposes, 50 percent higher than industry’s figure of 17.8 million pounds. The contention between the ban in use of antibiotics as food additives in animal feed and the maintenance of this trend is a double-edged sword. On one hand, if there is a complete ban, the level of food production will fall in a major way Animals that are currently in dependence of such supplements will not be able to survive and losses will be recorded everywhere. However, continuous use of these antibiotics as supplements puts the whole world at risk. The development of resistant illnesses is a great danger to human existence and might cost a lot in repairing the damages caused by the illnesses. This situation calls for an intelligent balance between the two, based on research on alternatives, to avoid the effects of extreme decisions.

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The Effects of the Use of Antibiotics on Both Humans and Animals. (2023, May 15). Retrieved from

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