Livestock Antibiotic Bill in the Works

A congressional committee recently held a hearing on a bill that proposes severe restrictions on the use of antibiotics in food animals. The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2009 would ban "non-therapeutic" uses of antibiotics that are also used in humans. It is hoped that this would prevent antibiotic resistance and preserve these drugs to treat human infections.

However, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) said there is no scientific proof that this ban would have any affect on resistance in human medicine.

The AVMA said the bill affects food animals only and will not impact horses.

"The AVMA opposes this legislation because it would increase animal disease and death--an unfortunate and unintended consequence--without assurance of improving human health. As defined within the text of the legislation, elimination of 'non-therapeutic' uses of antimicrobials would disallow disease prevention and potentially control uses. This type of broad based ban is contrary to the practice of veterinary medicine," the association stated.

"We need tools that control herd health, not just treat disease. Animals that are exposed need to be treated prophylactically, and that is something that would be banned by the bill," said Ashley N. Shelton, DVM, of the AVMA.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners has not taken a stand on the bill.

Read more about antibiotic use in horses

Disclaimer: Seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian before proceeding with any diagnosis, treatment, or therapy.