During the past week I have noticed an increase of the promotion of Denmark’s ban on the use of antibiotics for sub-therapeutic use. What has not been publicized is what has transpired since the ban went into place…it has not been all “roses.” These points were compiled after being able to hear a presentation by Dr. H. Scott Hurd of Iowa State.
1. Antibiotics are being used very sparingly since the ban. Farmers and veterinarians must now wait until animals are exhibiting clear signs of illness before treating which leads to higher doses of antibiotics being used to treat the animal, suffering and an increase in mortality. The Denmark ban led to an increase in diarrhea in pigs and an increase in deaths by more than 20% World Health Organization Report.
2. It is important to understand that the antibiotics used to prevent disease are not used to treat humans. However, the antibiotics used to treat disease, are also used to treat humans. The ban actually increases the use of more antibiotics that are shared in use with humans, not decreases.
3. The Denmark ban has led to a decrease of farms in Denmark from nearly 25 thousand in 1995 to fewer than 10 thousand in 2005. Farms were unable to remain in business due to the increase in death loss.
4. Since the Denmark ban, antimicrobial use has increased nearly 110% while number of animals has only increased 5%, due to higher dosages being used to treat, rather than prevent (DANMAP 2008).
5. Denmark now exports their pigs at weaning to other countries to be fed out for market, nearly 5 million in 2008.
7. Since the antibiotic ban, farmers in Denmark are now utilizing zinc to help control diarrhea in hogs and ironically, it is highly likely that this may be encouraging incidence of Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus (MRSA).
8. Most importantly, the WHO has stated that there has been no evidence of improved public health since the ban. In fact, resistant Salmonella in humans has increased and Denmark had their largest outbreak of MSRA (WHO 2002).
For more information on this and other food risk modeling information, I encourage you to visit Dr. H. Scott Hurd’s page.