Thank you to Sens. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam and Paul Pinsky and Del. Shane Robinson for their leadership on fighting antibiotic resistance in the Maryland legislature through SB607/HB829. The overuse of antibiotics in agriculture is a major cause of antibiotic resistance — an important threat to human health ("Drug-resistant bacteria a growing threat," Mar 2).
As a senior veterinary student a few years ago, I watched as veterinarians handed out antibiotics to farmers on large farms by the truckload. Since becoming a veterinarian myself, I've learned this experience was not unique. The majority of these antibiotics are given to healthy animals for the purposes of disease prevention. When given for these reasons, the antibiotics do not neutralize all of the target bacteria — providing the perfect environment for the emergence of resistant bacteria. More antibiotics used for these purposes will only result in more antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Antibiotic resistance is a big problem that promises to grow bigger under the current status quo. To combat these drug-resistant bugs and avoid more stories like that of Senator Nathan-Pulliam's son, action must be taken immediately. SB607 and HB829 are needed to end the use of medically important antibiotics on large farms for purposes other than treating sick animals. I hope the Maryland legislature passes this important bill.
Matthew J. Ferreira, Baltimore
The writer is a veterinarian and a student at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.