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Dutch doctors warn of dangers of overuse of antibiotics in farming

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 11 October 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c5677
  1. Tony Sheldon
  1. 1Utrecht

Public health experts in the Netherlands are calling for an urgent reduction in the use of antibiotics in farming as evidence mounts of transmission of antimicrobial resistance to humans through the food chain.

Dutch agriculture tops a European league table of the use of antibacterial agents per weight of slaughtered animal (Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 2010;65:2037-40, doi:10.1093/jac/dkq247). Amid concerns that this has caused a rise in numbers of bacteria producing extended spectrum β lactamase (ESBL)—an enzyme that confers resistance to modern antibiotics, including cephalosporins—the government this year ordered a 50% cut in antibiotic use by farmers within four years.

This followed a call by Roel Coutinho, director of the Centre …

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