May 20, 2020


Big disease outbreaks may emanate from food animals, NGO warns



Disease arising from animal production and consumption may cause other cases of large-scale disease outbreaks in the near future, the international NGO Sinergia Animal has warned, ScanAsia reports.


"COVID-19 has caused, so far, over 119,818 deaths, leaving almost the entire world in a lockdown, causing rising unemployment which will likely lead to a huge economic crisis. It is time to be responsible and also time to reflect on how we can prevent future outbreaks that will cost many lives, such as the ones caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria", said Wichayapat Piromsan, campaign manager of Sinergia Animal in Thailand.


The report said that some 700,000 people die annually due to infection by drug-resistant bacteria caused by indiscriminate use of antibiotics in both human and animal medicine. The number is more than five times higher than the current death toll of COVID-19.


The situation is expected to get worse as by 2050, the UN Interagency Coordination Group (IACG) on Antimicrobial Resistance estimates that 10 million people will die yearly due to antibiotic resistance.


Piromsan said that while hundreds of thousands of people die every year from antibiotic-resistant bacteria, "there is no major alarm from society about it".


The report noted that at present three-quarters of global antibiotics are given to livestock and that 60% of all human diseases originate in animals.


According to Piromsan, many animals raised for food receive antibiotics "without even being sick, simply to prevent diseases or to increase their productivity".


"These animals then become resistant to antibiotics given to them in low doses during the production cycle and then contaminate the food chain and humans with drug-resistant superbugs".


Sinergia Animal promotes campaigns that ask companies to be more responsible and use less industrial farming methods in their supply chains.