Playing Chicken With Our Antibiotics

Overtreatment is creating dangerously resistant germs

It's the sort of thing any good poultry farmer notices right away: a few of the birds in a so-called grow-out building have started snickering--the chicken equivalent of coughing. A respiratory infection, if that's what they have, could spread to the 20,000 other birds in the chicken house in a matter of days. The vet recommends the antibiotic enrofloxacin--the animal version of Cipro. Since it's not practical to treat the birds individually, the farmer pours a 5-gal. jug of the drug into the flock's drinking water. Five days later the birds are doing fine. Disaster has been averted.

Or has...

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