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Animal Care Wednesday Webinars
Husbandry Practices in the Spotlight

During the September Animal Care Wednesday Webinar, Dr. Gretchen Hill, Michigan State University Professor of Nutrition, began her presentation regarding antibiotic resistant bacteria with a powerful statement highlighting a misconception of society that current livestock care practices could be producing an unsafe food source.

Antibiotic Resistance & “Superbugs”

Talking about antibiotic resistance and “superbugs” is a challenging task for most people. Much of this challenge is simply caused by misconceptions that have been created, either intentionally or unintentionally. Dr. Hill pointed out Figure 1 (below).

Figure 1. Courtesy of The World Organisation for Animal Health.

Notice that the arrows in the infographic are only pointing from the animals to the people when talking about zoonotic diseases. If the image is to accurately depict the definition of zoonotic diseases, the arrows should be pointing both directions () because zoonotic diseases can be passed from people to animals or from animals to people. A misconception could arise.

Additional misconceptions can arise because general summaries of data report that approximately 23,000 deaths have occurred from antibiotic resistant pathogens in the United States (CDC, 2015). These summaries are helpful, however, people forget to notice the footnotes that go along with these figures state the majority of these deaths are occurring in populations that are already sick or in compromised health due to age. Remember, put context to the facts and figures that are shared regarding hot topics, and read footnotes to ensure a true picture of the population being discussed.

Sources of Superbugs

Sources of “superbugs” arise through multiple actions. Popular arguments focus on misuse of antibiotics within livestock care which result in residues ending up in the food supply. However, there are many federal regulations in place to ensure that the United States’ meat supply is safe for human consumption. Many times little attention is given to the human medical field. One-third of outpatient prescriptions are noted as unnecessary because the doctor is simply wanting to keep the patient happy (CDC, 2016). Also, patients make the conscious choice to stop taking prescriptions when they start feeling better so they do not receive the full dose of the medicine. This action is in direct incompliance with the written prescription received from the doctor and contributes to the potential creation of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Dr. Hill also elaborated on some specific examples of bacteria in the antibiotic resistance spotlight.

Take-Home Message

The take home message Dr. Hill shared was that when folks in academia, agriculture, or youth education have discussions about antibiotic resistance, they must use the right and consistent definition of terms. Most importantly, know your facts and make sure they are facts!

For questions about the “superbugs” and misconceptions discussed, contact Dr. Gretchen Hill.

Animal Care Wednesday Webinars

For more information on upcoming Animal Care Wednesday Webinars, please contact Heidi Carroll. To view this and past webinars, please visit the animal care resource website.


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