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How Much Do Antibiotics Used on the Farm Contribute to the Spread of Resistant Bacteria?

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Most medical doctors would agree that antibiotic drugs—which stave off bacterial infections from staph to salmonella to bacterial pneumonia—are among the most important tools in modern medicine. But public health advocates, environmentalists and even many doctors worry that our society’s overuse and misuse of antibiotics is making bacteria more resistant and thus limiting the effectiveness of these lifesaving drugs.

Bacterial resistance to our antibiotics simply means longer, more serious and more costly illnesses. The Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics, a nonprofit that conducts research around the world on antibiotic resistance, estimates that antibiotic resistance has been responsible for upwards of $16 billion annually in extra costs to the U.S. health care system in recent years.

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