Antibiotics used to treat COVID-19 patients routinely given to healthy animals
Our latest report has found that the same antibiotics used to treat seriously ill COVID-19 patients are being routinely given to healthy animals in factory farms, creating superbugs that make us less able to fight disease and risking another global health crisis.
Superbugs emerge on farms from antibiotic overuse, and those antibiotic resistant bacteria are entering our food chain and our environment.
The report, Fuelling the Pandemic Crisis, shows there is minimal international surveillance and reporting of antibiotic use or surveillance for superbugs.
Nearly three quarters of antibiotics used on animals
Almost three-quarters of the world’s antibiotics are used in animals, the majority on factory farms with antibiotics used to prop-up low-welfare practices such as the raising of fast-growing meat chickens and routine mutilation of piglets.
These animals are all housed in stressful, cramped conditions that provide the perfect breeding ground for the spread of infection and emergence of disease.
Already, 700,000 people die each year from infections that cannot be treated by antibiotics. By 2050, this is expected to rise to 10 million people each year.
Next pandemic could come from farm animals
A public poll, from World Animal Protection, shows that 4 out of 5 people surveyed across 15 countries are concerned that the next pandemic could come from farm animals, and a similar number are unaware of the superbug threat from factory farming.
Key poll results showed that:
83% are concerned about the possibility of a pandemic originating from farm animals
88% are concerned about superbugs coming from farm animals
82% under-estimate the amount of the world’s antibiotics that are used on farm animals
Superbugs causing adverse health effects (70%) or contaminating meat (66%) are most alarming
92% believe governments should monitor and report on antibiotic use in farm animals
85% believe antibiotics should only be used to treat sick animals, and
4 out of 5 would refuse to shop with retailers that don’t ensure animals are treated well and antibiotics used responsibility in meat they sell.
World Animal Protection, Head of Farming, Jacqueline Mills says:
“If the pandemic is the flash flood that has taken us by surprise, the superbug crisis is the only too predictable slow rising tide. We can’t ignore the contribution that the overuse of antibiotics in factory farming is having on the rise in antibiotic resistance – it is a ticking timebomb that could make the current public health crisis even worse if antibiotics are ineffective in treating secondary infections.
“Governments need to lift animal welfare standards, and monitor and report on antibiotic use in farm animals and supermarkets should be setting the bar far higher to ensure the animals in their supply chains are treated well, and antibiotics are used responsibly in farming.”
Call on supermarkets to help
We are calling for supermarkets to publish details of their policies on animal welfare, import policy and suppliers. Help us keep the pressure on and email your supermarket today.