“Last resort” antibiotics widely used to treat Swiss chickens

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© Keystone / Urs Flueler

Millions of chickens on Swiss farms are treated with the types of antibiotics that, in human cases, are only used in exceptional cases.

This content was published on March 6, 2022 – 18:37

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Some 5.2 million chickens were treated with ‘last resort’ antibiotics in 2020 alone, write the SonntagsZeitung and Morning Sunday newspapers.

The drugs, which are only used in humans when no other treatment has had an effect, are also supposed to be prescribed only exceptionally in animals, because overuse could lead to new forms of antibacterial resistance. .

Their consumption in previous years is difficult to estimate, write the newspapers, since the veterinarians who prescribe the drugs to breeders have only been obliged to report these cases since October 2019.

High level of resistance

Commonly prescribed drugs on Swiss farms are said to include fluoroquinolones, which in human cases are used to treat urinary tract infections. However, according to the Federal Office for Food Safety and Veterinary Affairs, Swiss chicken farms have a “high level” of resistance to this class of antibiotics.

To prevent the possible transmission of multidrug-resistant organisms from chickens to humans, infectious disease specialist Andreas Widmer recommends “cooking your chicken thoroughly”.

The newspapers also write that if these antibiotics are also used on other types of livestock, it is to a lesser extent: 59% of chickens are concerned, but the rate drops to 10% for cattle and pigs.

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