Antibiotics are over used, and the bacteria that antibiotics kill are managing to mutate quickly enough to prevent their own extinction, and as a result antibiotics are mutating into bacteria that resist antibiotics. Humans, we are told, should take fewer antibiotics, but suffer more easily the consequences of some of the illnesses which antibiotics fight. But the antibiotic problem is not caused by prescriptions to humans.
About seventy percent of antibiotic production in the world is used as prophylactics in farm animals, poultry and in farmed fish. Fish are farmed in open net cages where they are restrained in large numbers. they are treated to antibiotic baths and some of the food they are fed contains antibiotics. There is supposedly a period between antibiotic treatment of the farmed fish and the use of the farmed fish, which should enable the fish’s antibiotics to leave the system of the fish before it is eaten, but many of the antibiotics used are the same as used in humans and the fish provide a useful breeding ground for antibiotic mutation into resistant strains.
The use of antibiotics on farms is very widespread. It is used to treat disease, but much of the disease could be prevented if the animals were better kept with more space and less stress.
The various campaigns to persuade doctors to prescribe fewer antibiotics to their patients miss the point. We need to look at and restrict the use of antibiotics in all types of farming so that we may preserve the qualities of these useful medicines before they become useless for humans, and the starting point for this task is not the doctor’s surgery, but the fish farms and animal farms.