Delaware No. 1 in Use of Antibiotic Feed, Report Finds

DELAWARE - Delaware uses more antibiotic feed additives per square mile than any other state, potentially placing residents who live near large farms at greater risk for exposure to antibiotic resistant bacteria, an environmental group said Wednesday.

About 187,000 pounds of antibiotic additives are used per thousand square miles in Delaware, nearly three times that of the next closest state, North Carolina, which led the nation in overall usage. Maryland was fourth in estimated usage per square mile at 44,467 pounds, according to the state-by-state assessment released by the advocacy group Environmental Defense.

In Delaware, the report said almost all the use was in Sussex County, where the state's huge poultry industry is based. A spokesman for a national poultry group disputed claims that residents near poultry farms are at greater risk.

The report said 90 percent of the additives are used in 23 states, a conclusion "that has important public health ramifications," co-author Rebecca Goldburg said.

The group said the overuse of antibiotics in agriculture is widely regarded as contributing to the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that threaten human health. Animals that received the antibiotics are not sick, but are given the medications to prevent diseases caused by crowded, stressful conditions or to promote faster growth, the authors said.

calendar icon 3 June 2005
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