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What are antibiotics and what do they do?
Antibiotics are a type of medicine discovered about fifty years ago. They kill germs inside us called bacteria.
Are they given to animals as well as humans?
To make sick animals better.
To make them grow faster.
To keep them from getting sick.
Is this a good thing?
No, because when animals are given so many antibiotics, it makes the bacteria inside them get used to the antibiotics. This can lead to:
Sick animals not getting better.
People handling the sick animals, their waste, or infected soil or water, also becoming sick and passing on the disease to the rest of their family.
Animal waste getting onto vegetables and fruit which we eat, or into our drinking water.
Us becoming sick if we eat meat that has bacteria in it and is not cooked properly.
The antibiotics we take no longer being able to kill bacteria inside us, because they will become super-bugs.
Can’t vets stop people from giving animals antibiotics when they are not needed?
No. Although our pets at home need to see a vet when they are sick, farm animals' antibiotics can be bought by farmers without a prescription from the doctor.
Where are these antibiotics used the most?
In places called ‘factory farms? where a lot of animals are housed within a small space. The people who run these farms try to prevent the animals from getting sick by giving them antibiotics which they do not need.
What can you do to help?
Make sure you and your parents wash your hands, knives and cutting boards very carefully after preparing meat.
Ask your parents to cook meat very well.
You and your pets need a prescription to take antibiotics, and it should be the same for farm animals. If this doesn't happen, super-bugs will develop and we will all become very sick.