The potential role of concentrated animal feeding operations in infectious disease epidemics and antibiotic resistance
The industrialization of livestock production and the widespread use of nontherapeutic antimicrobial growth promotants has intensified the risk for the emergence of new, more virulent, or more resistant microorganisms. These have reduced the effectiveness of several classes of antibiotics for treating infections in humans and livestock. Recent outbreaks of virulent strains of influenza have arisen from swine and poultry raised in close proximity. This working group, which was part of the Conference on Environmental Health Impacts of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations: Anticipating Hazards--Searching for Solutions, considered the state of the science around these issues and concurred with the World Health Organization call for a phasing-out of the use of antimicrobial growth promotants for livestock and fish production. We also agree that all therapeutic antimicrobial agents should be available only by prescription for human and veterinary use. Concern about the risk of an influenza pandemic leads us to recommend that regulations be promulgated to restrict the co-location of swine and poultry concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) on the same site and to set appropriate separation distances.