Animals raised for food live in herds or flocks, share water and feed troughs, and seek close contact with one another by licking, laying on each other and even rubbing snouts and noses. This can spread illnesses rapidly. Waiting for animals to show symptoms of an illness before beginning treatment is often too late. Swift action can prevent the spread of disease and result in animals receiving fewer antibiotics than they would have had they not received preventive medication.
An important food safety step is making sure meat is handled properly and cooked to the right temperature. And that responsibility lies with the people preparing the food for the millions of holiday gatherings that take place in homes across the country, including mine.
As a veterinarian, it is my duty to weigh the decision on whether to use antibiotics on the farm in order to balance both public health and animal needs. I took an oath to prevent and treat animal suffering as well as promote public health and protect animal health. It’s a real balancing act some days, but when an animal is sick with a bacterial infection, treating it with antibiotics is the right thing to do.