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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Review session to answer questions about animal antibiotic use, resistance

August 30, 2012

LONDON, Ohio -- Livestock and poultry producers work with their veterinarians to use antibiotics for a variety of reasons, the most important of which is the treatment of sick animals, said Tom Wittum, Ohio State University professor of veterinary epidemiology in the colleges of Veterinary Medicine and Public Health. Antibiotics also may be used to control or prevent disease in livestock populations, or for improved growth efficiency. 

All of these are approved uses of antibiotics in livestock, but they can put selection pressure on bacteria, potentially resulting in antibiotic resistance, Wittum said. 

 “This is a really important topic that many consumers have very real concerns about, so it is important that we understand the science of antibiotic resistance so those concerns can be addressed,” he said. 

Wittum will be available to hear the concerns of consumers and producers during a question-and-answer session titled “Animal antibiotic use and resistance” Sept. 19 at 9:20 a.m. at the Farm Science Review near London, Ohio. The program is part of the Question the Authorities schedule, with sessions held at the Review’s OSU Area in the center of the main grounds. 

Bacteria are very adaptable and have a variety of mechanisms to evade or resist the effects of antibiotics, he said. 

“As a result, resistance often occurs following antibiotic use but may never be seen,” Wittum said. “Resistant bacteria that develop in livestock can potentially pose a threat to humans if they contaminate carcasses during processing and enter the food supply in fresh meat products.” 

While this is rare, it can and does occur, he said. 

“For livestock and poultry producers, antibiotic use in livestock and potential resistance is an issue that their customers are truly concerned about,” Wittum said. “Agriculture will benefit if the concerns of their customers are directly addressed and resolved.” 

Wittum anticipates discussing some of the current antibiotic use practices on farms, important antibiotic resistance concerns and how to prevent antibiotic resistance from occurring. 

The Question the Authorities program at Farm Science Review is a joint effort of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, and the College of Veterinary Medicine. Veterinary Medicine is increasing its participation in Farm Science Review this year, offering 20 of the Question the Authorities sessions. For details, see

Farm Science Review is sponsored by the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, OSU Extension, and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Pre-show tickets are $5 at all OSU Extension county offices. Tickets are also available at local agribusinesses. Tickets are $8 at the gate. Children 5 and younger are admitted free. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 18-19 and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 20. 

For more information, see For the latest news and updates, follow Farm Science Review on Twitter (@OhioStateFSR) and Facebook at


Kyle Sharp
Tom Wittum