Animal farmers get lesson in antibiotic injections

Doctors at Haifa's Bnai Zion hospital are warning that farmers should be more cautious about injecting animals with antibiotics after a man was infected with a resistant strain of bacteria by the animals with which he had been working, reports The doctors said that giving antibiotics over a period of time to all the animals in a herd or flock encouraged the development of resistant strains of bacteria, with serious consequences for humans infected by them. According to the report, the 30-year-old man was brought into the hospital suffering from a severe infection in his eyes and throat after receiving a cut to one eye when he fell in the pig pen where he worked. Normal antibiotics proved ineffective and doctors described the bacteria that were causing the infection as "particularly resistant." The report said it was only when the doctors tried a new antibiotic that they brought about a gradual improvement in the man's condition. Inquiries revealed that the pigs had been injected with numerous different types of antibiotics, leading to resistant bacteria. "Injecting antibiotics into animals (chicken, cattle, pigs or fish) is a very common phenomenon, but it has very serious consequences for human beings," one of the doctors said. "If an antibiotic of a particular type is given over a period of time, the bacteria develop a resistance to it. When a single animal in a herd becomes sick the tendency of the keepers is to give antibiotics to the whole herd. You then find remnants of these antibiotics in all the animals." The doctor said it was unfortunate that the issue of the potential consequences for humans of dosing animals excessively with antibiotics fell "between the chairs" of the Health Ministry and veterinary services. He said that awareness of the issue had risen around the world in recent years, and western countries had passed laws to protect humans from the potential dangers of excessive antibiotic use in animals.