Antimicrobial resistance is emerging threat to livestock and public health

  Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has emerged as one of the most serious public health threats globally. Says Dr.Kumar Venkitanarayanan, Professor and Graduate Programs Chair, Department of Animal Science, University of Connecticut, USA. He made this remark while addressing the delegates of International workshop on Cattle welfare and Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University Scientists at KVASU campuses.
The rise in AMR is chiefly attributed to the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture and the continued use of antibiotics at sub-therapeutic levels as growth promoters is linked to the selection of antimicrobial resistant bacteria. Feeding of various antimicrobials to animals has been implicated in the potential selection of antimicrobial resistant bacteria in concentrated animal feeding operations and agricultural ecosystems, including food animal operations. This is particularly significant in food animals, where resistant bacteria introduced to the food chain result in severe food-borne infections. Microbial antimicrobial resistance also presents significant challenges to animal welfare, where AMR infections result in increased pain and suffering of animals, thereby leading to greater morbidity and mortality. Global use of antibiotics, environmental implications of antibiotic usage, dissemination and persistence of antibiotics in nature, mechanisms of AMR in bacteria and major AMR pathogens significant in animal health, food safety and public health need more attention; Kumar added.

Professor David Barrett, Professor of Bovine Medicine, Production and Reproduction, University of Bristol, UK explained the link between antimicrobial use in livestock and resistance in human pathogens and the use of antimicrobials in livestock in the European Union (EU). There are clear differences in antimicrobial use in different EU countries and drew attention to the fact that some countries use farm more medicines that others, even after the animal population size was accounted for.
Professor Barrett detailed an initiative in which the use of World Health Organization (WHO) critically important antibiotic use had been reduced by between 80-100% over a 5-year period at the University of Bristol, through better prescribing practices and linking medicine use audits to herd health preventive medicine planning. This has been achieved alongside enhanced milk production without any fall in either animal health or animal welfare. Methods of communication that had been used with veterinarians and farmers to bring about behavior change to achieve these goals include motivational interviewing and farmer participatory discussion groups and methodologies were equally applicable in motivating change in animal husbandry practices to enhance animal welfare.
Professor Barrett discussed the importance of good record keeping and data analysis in knowing what antimicrobials were being used, and the importance of all antimicrobials being prescription only medicines in the EU. He also explained that all milk is tested for antimicrobials to ensure they do not enter the food chain in the EU. He explained some of the extensive research portfolio of the University of Bristol ‘AMR Force’ research group. India should consider making all antimicrobials prescription only medicines and restricting their supply to doctors and veterinarians. It was also suggested that the current medicine supply routes in India were likely to be used to impose trade barriers in future, restricting export of milk and milk products from India.



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