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Gov’t to Assess Antibiotic’s Health Risk

November 30, 2004

WASHINGTON — The government will estimate the probability that an animal antibiotic used on farms could lead to more antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections among humans.

The antibiotic virginiamycin is used to speed growth and stem disease among poultry, pigs and cattle. Chemically, it’s similar to Synercid, an antibiotic for humans.

The Food and Drug Administrations Center for Veterinary Medicine is seeking public comments through Jan. 24, 2005 on estimates of the potential hazard of using a related antibiotic compound in food-producing animals.

The agency’s primary concern is that as humans are exposed to resistant bacteria in the food supply, the effectiveness of antibiotics that people take themselves will suffer. That could lead to illnesses that last longer and drugs with diminished potency of Synercid against such pathogens as E. faecium.

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