Maintaining the health and productivity of farm animals is of high priority to the farm owners. Hence, it is not surprising that farmers use antibiotics to protect their animals. Do you think this is the right method of raising healthy farm animals? Think again…
Imprudent use of antibiotics for farm animals only increases the chances of developing pathogenic bacteria that are resistant to these various antibiotics. Providing low and repeated doses of antibiotics over a long period of time helps pathogenic bacteria develop resistance to it and also sustains and enriches those harmful bacterial strains that can tolerate these antibiotics. Researchers from UK and China have isolated a specific strain of E. coli in Chinese pigs that has evolved to withstand the antibiotic-colistin. Colistin had been termed as the last resort antibiotic, as pathogens that had developed resistance to many common antibiotics (multi-drug resistant) could be controlled using colistin.
However, the indiscriminate use of colistin along with animal feed to increase the body weight and health of animals has led to the development of the antibiotic-resistant strain. To add to the plight, the plasmid carrying the resistant gene can be passed on to other bacterial pathogens including many pathogens that commonly affect humans.
Routine testing and analysis by professor Liu and his colleagues from the South China Agricultural University in Guangzhou, China, has also shown the prevalence of resistant bacterial strains affecting poultry as well as in a number of hospitalized patients already. However, the low number of positive samples in humans as compared to animals suggests that the resistant strain has originated in animals and spread to humans.
Taking sustainable precautions like the use of natural probiotics right from early stages of animal development can help reduce or eliminate the need for antibiotic usage and prevent such a disastrous outcome.