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Maryland is Second State to Ban Antibiotic Use in Livestock

Since the discovery of antibiotics, our society has been prescribing these life-savers to kill and limit the growth of bacteria in our systems. Antibiotics are one of the most prescribed drugs used in human medicine, but due to over-prescription of these drugs, roughly 50% of the time these drugs are not prescribed and/or are used appropriately, leading to an increased resistance of the bacteria to fight back against these drugs. Antibiotic resistance occurs when there are a significant number of germs and bacteria in one’s body, and the antibiotics kill the germs and bacteria that are causing the illness in the person, but a few of the bacteria are able to fight back against the drug and are able to grow and spread.

Antibiotics are also used in animals, like poultry, cows, and swine, to kill bacteria in the intestines of these animals to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses to humans who then eat these animals. However, due to the increase of antibiotic and antimicrobial resistance, not all the bacteria is killed in the food animals, and the bacteria can continue to spread and contaminate their meat and other animal byproducts.

Due to the considerable threat represented by the antimicrobial/antibiotic resistance, the practice of giving antibiotics to food-producing animals has come under fire. Though California has been the only state to specifically outlaw antibiotics in food-producing animals, Maryland has officially joined them.

Maryland’s Keep Antibiotics Effect Act (KAEA)

Governor Larry Hogan declined to sign or veto Maryland’s Keep Antibiotics Effective Act, which will ban the routine use of antibiotics in healthy livestock and food-producing animals in an attempt to battle the serious threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs.” The Act will come into effect on October 1, 2017 and all farmers in Maryland will have to comply with the law by January 1, 2018. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) had originally enacted a law that would prohibit the once-best practices of using antibiotics to promote growth in farm animals, but allows for disease prevention by administering antibiotics to food-producing animals. California’s law, which passed in 2015, and now Maryland’s law will go beyond the FDA requirements and will hopefully have the effect of limiting the rise of these superbugs.

Exceptions to and Penalties of KAEA

The exceptions to the law are those farmers in Maryland who operate a cattle farm of 200 cattle or less per year, those who operate a swine farm of 200 swine or less per year, or those who operate a poultry farm of less than 60,000 birds per year.

As the law stands, after January 1, 2018, any antimicrobial drug that is administered to cattle, swine, or poultry can only be used, and after determined to be necessary by a licensed veterinarian, when there is a disease or infection that needs to be treated, the drug is being used to treat the spread of a disease or infection, and where there is a surgical or medical procedure that requires administration of the drug.

Any person who violates the law may be required to pay a penalty of $2,000.

How KAEA Relates to Human Health

Though this issue seems to only relate to farms and their livestock, this will hopefully have an impact on antibiotic and antimicrobial resistance in humans who are the consumers of these animals. Exposure to those who may be resistant to antibiotics and who have frail immunities may suffer severe illness that could lead to death.

Charles County, MD Personal Injury Lawyers that Fight for You

The antibiotic/antimicrobial resistance health endemic results largely from the overprescription of antibiotics by medical professionals. If you or a loved one has been injured or harmed as a result of medical malpractice of medical professionals, it is important to consult with an experienced Maryland personal injury lawyer. Please call the Law Office of Robert R. Castro at (301) 804-2312 for a confidential consultation.