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Chemosphere. 2006 Oct;65(5):725-59. Epub 2006 May 4.

A global perspective on the use, sales, exposure pathways, occurrence, fate and effects of veterinary antibiotics (VAs) in the environment.

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Landcare Research New Zealand Limited, Private Bag 3127, Hamilton, New Zealand.


Veterinary antibiotics (VAs) are widely used in many countries worldwide to treat disease and protect the health of animals. They are also incorporated into animal feed to improve growth rate and feed efficiency. As antibiotics are poorly adsorbed in the gut of the animals, the majority is excreted unchanged in faeces and urine. Given that land application of animal waste as a supplement to fertilizer is often a common practice in many countries, there is a growing international concern about the potential impact of antibiotic residues on the environment. Frequent use of antibiotics has also raised concerns about increased antibiotic resistance of microorganisms. We have attempted in this paper to summarize the latest information available in the literature on the use, sales, exposure pathways, environmental occurrence, fate and effects of veterinary antibiotics in animal agriculture. The review has focused on four important groups of antibiotics (tylosin, tetracycline, sulfonamides and, to a lesser extent, bacitracin) giving a background on their chemical nature, fate processes, occurrence, and effects on plants, soil organisms and bacterial community. Recognising the importance and the growing debate, the issue of antibiotic resistance due to the frequent use of antibiotics in food-producing animals is also briefly covered. The final section highlights some unresolved questions and presents a way forward on issues requiring urgent attention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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