Use of antimicrobial agents in veterinary medicine and implications for human health

Crit Rev Microbiol. 2005;31(3):155-69. doi: 10.1080/10408410591005110.


This review discusses why veterinary usage of antimicrobial agents is wrongly accused of causing a substantial part of the problem of resistant human pathogens. Without doubt, resistant organisms in animals are selected by veterinary antimicrobials. However, these are not a major human health risk either because the role of veterinary usage in selection or propagation is insignificant, or because resistant populations selected by veterinary usage do not pose a substantial risk to human health. Indeed, resistant bacterial infections in humans causing serious quantitative and qualitative health consequences are rarely food-borne and are not the same as those selected by veterinary usage of antimicrobial agents. The available evidence for veterinary selection of resistance, transmission to humans, and subsequent health consequences are reviewed for food-borne zoonotic pathogens. A risk assessment strategy is proposed to quantify potential hazards in order to decide on the most effective risk management strategy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents*
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial*
  • Drug Utilization
  • Food Microbiology
  • Humans
  • Public Health
  • Veterinary Drugs*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Veterinary Drugs