(Yicai Global) Jan. 16 -- The world's largest producer and user of antibiotics, China is severely impacted by their misuse and resulting bacterial resistance. Antibiotic abuse is especially serious in animal husbandry, state Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday.
Stock breeders often add antibiotics to feed, which engenders drug-resistant 'superbugs' and causes environmental pollution, thus imperiling Chinese people's health. Of the 162,000 tons of antibiotics used in China in 2013, 52 percent were for livestock. Over 50,000 tons were discharged into the soil and water that year, data show. Use of antibiotics has been climbing since 2014 -- most as feed additives, rather than to cure diseases. Antibiotic residues are easily detectable in various meat and dairy products and even animal-derived biochemical drugs.
Their misuse has become a major issue in public health worldwide. Apart from environmental pollution and its threat to human health, the emergence of drug-resistant superbugs is by far the most worrying issue.
To develop a new drug usually takes about ten years, but drug-resistant bacteria can emerge after only two. Rising antibiotic misuse may eventually lead to rampant superbugs.
"With the current development trend of drug resistance, China is likely to be one of the first countries to feel the onslaught of rampant superbugs before ultimately running out of options for antibiotics," said Li Min, chief physician at Beijing's health food and cosmetics inspection center.
Rural areas are the setting for most antibiotic abuse, with the problem prevalent in both animal husbandry and medical care. Improper antibiotic use can damage the liver and kidney, cause flora imbalance and sap the immune system, said Xiong Lei, president of Yunnan College of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Antibiotic abuse has caused impaired hearing in 300,000 children in China, which is 30 to 40 percent of those with hearing problems, in contrast to the 1 percent in developed countries, data show.