Antimicrobial use and resistance in animals

Clin Infect Dis. 2002 Jun 1;34 Suppl 3:S93-S106. doi: 10.1086/340246.


Food animals in the United States are often exposed to antimicrobials to treat and prevent infectious disease or to promote growth. Many of these antimicrobials are identical to or closely resemble drugs used in humans. Precise figures for the quantity of antimicrobials used in animals are not publicly available in the United States, and estimates vary widely. Antimicrobial resistance has emerged in zoonotic enteropathogens (e.g., Salmonella spp., Campylobacter spp.), commensal bacteria (e.g., Escherichia coli, enterococci), and bacterial pathogens of animals (e.g., Pasteurella, Actinobacillus spp.), but the prevalence of resistance varies. Antimicrobial resistance emerges from the use of antimicrobials in animals and the subsequent transfer of resistance genes and bacteria among animals and animal products and the environment. To slow the development of resistance, some countries have restricted antimicrobial use in feed, and some groups advocate similar measures in the United States. Alternatives to growth-promoting and prophylactic uses of antimicrobials in agriculture include improved management practices, wider use of vaccines, and introduction of probiotics. Monitoring programs, prudent use guidelines, and educational campaigns provide approaches to minimize the further development of antimicrobial resistance.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Animal Feed / analysis
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis
  • Dairy Products / analysis
  • Drug Resistance*
  • Drug Utilization
  • Meat / analysis
  • Poultry
  • Probiotics
  • United States
  • Vaccines


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Vaccines