Benefits of Antibiotics in Chickens May Outweigh Risks
For Immediate Release
Jan Williams, U of M College of Veterinary Medicine, 612-624-6228
Molly Portz, U of M Academic Health Center, 612-625-2640
Tracy Stone, 646-489-1412
(ICAAC on-site contact)
MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (November 2, 2004) - The potential benefits to human
health associated with the use of antibiotics in chicken may outweigh the potential
risks, according to a risk-benefit analysis conducted by a team of researchers
led by Randall S. Singer, D.V.M., Ph.D., of the University of Minnesota College
of Veterinary Medicine. Recent studies have shown that antibiotic use in animal
production results in healthier animals, and the meat derived from these healthier
animals has lower levels of bacteria that can cause food-borne illness in people.
Other evidence indicates however, that the use of antibiotics also has the
potential to increase the level of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in meat. The
researchers developed a mathematical model to evaluate the potential human
health risks and benefits of the use of the antibiotic tylosin in chickens.
They compared the potential risks associated with increased levels of antibiotic-resistant
bacteria in meat with the potential benefits associated with decreased risk
of food-borne illness.
"Antibiotic resistance is a problem in both human medicine and animal
production animal agriculture," Singer said. "But our model demonstrated
that the reduced number of infections and illness days associated with the
tylosin in chicken far exceeded the increased human health risks associated
with antibiotic resistance due to tylosin use."
Singer will present the results of the study at the annual Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 2. The presentation will be one of many on antibiotic resistance, bioterrorism, and infectious disease, all of which are hot topics in veterinary medicine as well as human medicine.
"Veterinarians have a commitment to both animal and human health - which
are strongly connected," said Jeff Klausner, dean of the College of Veterinary
Medicine at the University of Minnesota. "At the University of Minnesota, the
Center for Animal Health and Food Safety is actively addressing many of these
In addition to Singer, the authors of the study were L. Anthony Cox, Cox Associates, Denver, Colo.; James S. Dickson and H. Scott Hurd, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa; Ian Phillips, University of London, London; and Gay Y. Miller, University of Illinois, Urbana, Ill. The study was funded by Elanco, the animal health division of Eli Lilly and Company.
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