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FDA Bans Cephalosporin use in Animals: Why it's Important

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
FDA limits cephalosporin use in animals

The FDA has banned the use of the Cephalosporin, an antibiotic used in animals, beginning April 5, 2012. Off-label use of the antibiotic in cattle, swine, chicken and turkeys could mean the important drug could lose its effect for treating human infections. The ban is an effort from the FDA to protect the public from life-threatening diseases that can't be treated with other antibiotics.

Cephalosporin drugs are important for treating urinary tract infections, pneumonia and skin infections in humans. In animals, the antibiotic is given to treat respiratory infection in cattle, swine, sheep and goats and E.coli that can kill baby chicks. It’s also used to treat “foot rot” in cattle.

According to the FDA statement:

“Antimicrobial drugs are important for treating disease in both humans and animals. This new order takes into consideration the substantial public comment FDA received on a similar order that it issued in 2008, but revoked prior to implementation.”

The antibiotic can still be used in ducks and rabbits, however.

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Animals consumed by humans that are given the antibiotic are thought to lead to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. The result is less effectiveness of cephalosporins in humans to treat life-threatening illness.

The FDA also notes the drug can be important for treating certain forms of salmonella food-poisoning in adults and children that is "the most significant risk to the public health associated with antimicrobial resistance.”

Though some consider the ban important for human health, Kristina Butts of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association said "the top priority for cattle producers is to raise healthy cattle because healthy cattle are the foundation of a safe, wholesome food supply".

Butts said in an e-mail there isn't any scientific evidence of antibiotic resistance in humans from use of the drug in animals, reported by Bloomberg Businessweek.

The FDA is accepting comments from the public, January 6 through March 6, before the April 5, 2012 deadline for banning cephalosporin use in animals.


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