Animal health companies report a drop in the volume of antibiotics used to treat animals last year. A new survey conducted by the Animal Health Institute reveals that antibiotic used in 2003 fell nearly 8 percent when compared to the year before.

The survey  — conducted of animal health companies that belong to AHI — shows that 20.2 million pounds of antibiotics were produced for use in both farm and companion animals in 2003. That’s a decline from the 22 million pounds produced in 2002. The data indicate that a steady downward trend since 1999 remains in effect.

AHI officials say that the results mean that antibiotics are used carefully to extend the quality and length of animal lives. Additionally, they note, a recent peer-reviewed publication has concluded that the risk of using antibiotics to keep animals healthy is very small. And, in fact, there is some evidence that there can be a greater risk to human health associated with banning products.

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Animal Health Institute