About 80% of antibiotics in the US are used to treat livestock. This use is controversial because the antibiotics are often used to increase growth in the animals, rather than to treat a specific illness. The antibiotics used on animals are similar or identical to those used on humans, so overuse in animals that are used for meat might have health consequences for humans, such as increased resistance to antibiotics.
More on antibiotics:
- In 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) established a policy that requires ranchers and farmers to obtain a veterinarian's prescription before giving antibiotics to their animals.
- The US ranks fifth among all countries in the use of antibiotics, behind France, Greece, Italy and Belgium.
- The over-prescribing of antibiotics in the US is considered by many people to be a serious public health issue. One study showed that 80% of antibiotic prescriptions for acute respiratory tract problems were unnecessary, according to guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).