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Health Agencies Update
August 19, 1998

Antibiotics and Livestock

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JAMA. 1998;280(7):594. doi:10.1001/jama.280.7.594-JHA80006-2-1

Food animals can be a source of at least some of the antibiotic-resistant infections that people contract, according to a new report by a committee of the National Research Council. But while researchers have documented a few cases in which resistant bacteria have been spread from animal sources to humans, there is insufficient information to determine the true risks that animal food products or contact with livestock pose to human health, the report concluded.

The committee recommended establishing a national database to monitor infectious diseases and trends in antibiotic resistance that may result from the use of antimicrobial agents in animals. The group also called on the federal government to form a permanent oversight panel with members from regulatory agencies, medical and veterinary groups, the food industry, and consumer groups to ensure that antibiotics are used appropriately in humans and animals.