The potential spread of antibiotic resistance returned to the spotlight, following DEFRA calls for more prudent use of antibiotics to treat both human and animal disease.
The link between overuse of antibiotics and the risk of the spread of antibiotic resistance is seldom out of the news for long these days. DEFRA recently published a report entitled 'UK Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy', outlining a 5 year strategy for a more prudent approach in using antibiotic medicines.
Although the report acknowledged that overuse of antibiotic medicines to treat human illnesses represented the main risk in spreading antimicrobial resistance, it also stressed the need for better farming practices, as well as better management of disease, improved training in the prescription of antibiotics and better tracking of resistant bacteria.
The report received support from a number of industry organisations such as the British Veterinary Association, but the Soil Association said it would do nothing to stop the “excessive farm use of antibiotics”. Among initiatives taken in other countries, the Soil Association cited action taken in Denmark to ban use of “critically important” antibiotics as well as the ‘Yellow Card’ system, “which cautions farmers using too many antibiotics”.
The National Office of Animal Health (NOAH) is the organisation representing the UK animal medicines industry, who recently produced a film to broaden the public understanding of the role of responsibly used medicines for maintaining animal health. The Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) is the body representing UK farming industries, who have drawn up Codes of Practice for responsible use of antibiotic medicines for individual livestock species and poultry.
The Pig Health & Welfare Council represents a coalition of UK pig industry stakeholders. Its recently published Annual Report 2012 recognised the need for “improved monitoring of antimicrobial patterns in animals” and aims to reduce the overall usage of antimicrobials in pigs by 2020 “through improving pig health and disease control and elimination”.