San Francisco Antibiotic Use in Food Animals Ordinance Reporting Year 2019
The United States’ failure to respond quickly and meaningfully to the immediate public health threat of COVID-19 underscores the need to prioritize national public health concerns that affect all of us. One
pressing problem that has received far too little national attention is that of antibiotic resistance, whereby the medicines used to treat bacterial infections no longer work. Some scientists estimate that as many as 162,000 people die each year from multi-drug resistant organisms not far behind
the nationwide COVID-19 death count of more than 200,000 people
that was published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on the date of the filing of this report.
In fact, today’s global pandemic shines a light on the seriousness of the problem of antibiotic resistance and the importance of preserving antibiotic efficacy. Although COVID-19 is caused by a virus, many COVID-19 patients acquire secondary infections or “co-infections,” some of which may
require treatment with antibiotics. For example, data from Wuhan, China indicate that as many as 50% of COVID-19 patients who died, also had secondary bacterial infections. This is a tangible, present day example illustrating why we need to preserve the efficacy of antibiotics through prudent and proper usage. It is also why infectious disease specialists are calling for antibiotic resistance testing.
Given the dramatic need for effective antibiotics right now, we have an even greater responsibility to minimize the misuse and overuse of antibiotics so that they will continue to work when we need them.
One sector in particular, the livestock industry, must do more. Approximately two-thirds of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used by the livestock industry. Yet there is no federal mandate for this industry to
track the on-farm use of medically important5 antibiotics.
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