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Reducing antimicrobial use in food animals.

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PubMed ID: 28963240

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Van Boeckel TP, Glennon EE, Chen D, Gilbert M, Robinson TP, Grenfell BT, Levin SA, Bonhoeffer S, Laxminarayan R

Science. Sep 2017. doi: 10.1126/science.aao1495

COMMENT:  Interesting comment about the concern about antimicrobial resistance related with the expanded use of antimicrobials in livestock production mainly derived from the global demand for animal protein. In this comment of Science (within a Policy Forum section about Global Health) the authors highlight the known fact that the primary driver for the accumulation of harmful resistance genes in the animal reservoir is the use of antimicrobials in animal production. In addition, the low dosage in which the antibiotics are provided in farms favors even more the appearance of antibiotics resistance:

Un-like in humans, antimicrobial use in animals is primarily intended for growth promotion and mass prophylaxis. These uses are often administered both through feed, directly targeting the gut, and in low-dose patterns that promote the evolution of resistance (15). These factors suggest that the food animal reservoir is a greater source of resistance genes than humans.

In relative terms, humans and animals use comparable amounts of antimicrobials ,118 mg/PCU and 133 mg/kg, respectively, but given that the biomass of animals raised for food exceeds by far the biomass of humans, new resistant mutations are more likely to arise in animals.

One of the solutions with higher impact recommended by the authors is the reduction of meat consumption:

Limiting meat intake worldwide to 40 g/day—the equivalent of one standard fast-food burger per person—could reduce global consumption of antimicrobials in food animals by 66%

It is important to consider that this solution probably also would imply a profound beneficial impact in human health worldwide.

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Raquel Tobes