Friday, February 12, 2010

CBS report raises public health concerns about routine antibiotic use in livestock

Last week we reported many in the agriculture industry were bracing for an unflattering report about antibiotic use in livestock from the CBS Evening News. Now after several delays the report has aired. Katie Couric reported that a 2009 University of Iowa study found a new strain of MRSA in 70 percent of hogs and 64 percent of the workers on several farms that used antibiotics in Iowa and western Illinois. On antibiotic-free farms, no MRSA was found.

"Health officials are concerned if workers who handle animals are getting sick - what about the rest of us?," Couric wrote. "Drug resistant infections have sky-rocketed over the past two decades, killing an estimated 70,000 Americans last year alone." Now scientists fear Americans may be acquiring drug-resistant MRSA from handling tainted meat from animals fed antibiotics to promote growth and prevent disease, Couric reports. Liz Wagstrom, a veterinarian with the National Pork Board, told CBS most farmers use antibiotics appropriately. (Read more)

A bill in Congress would restrict use of antibiotics in animals raised for human consumption. In Part 2 of the report Couric visited Denmark to report on the country's attempts at producing antibiotic-free livestock. As of Friday the two online stories had more than 130 reader comments combined.

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