The World Health Organization Tuesday (6-15-2000) issued guidelines aimed at cutting the use of antimicrobial treatments in animals raised for food. According to the document, drawn up by some 70 experts meeting in Geneva. All such treatments should be subject to obligatory prescriptions and national systems should be set up to monitor antimicrobial use and resistance.
``In the last few years, evidence of the range of public health risks associated with the use of antimicrobials has grown stronger,'' WHO infectious diseases chief David Heymann noted in a statement. He called the guidelines a ``major step to reduce these risks on a global scale.''
The WHO noted, that excessive use of antimicrobials in food animals contributes to the development of treatment-resistant bacteria that can be transmitted to humans, mainly through food.
Half the world's antibiotics are used on farms, sometimes to treat illness but mostly to help healthy animals grow bigger.
Drug-resistant salmonella bacteria in European, Asian and North American animals have caused diarrhea, blood poisoning and death in humans, WHO said. The guidelines also say use of antimicrobials to promote growth in animals should be ended or rapidly phased out if the drugs are also used for treating humans and no safety evaluation has been carried out.