In this file:


·         Antibiotic resistance: what is animal agriculture's role?

·         EDITORIAL: Overuse of antibiotics in agriculture is slowing down



Antibiotic resistance: what is animal agriculture's role?


Sarah Mikesell, The Cattle Site

09 January 2019


Dr Scott McDougall, professor at Massey University and research veterinarian at a private veterinary practice in New Zealand, spoke at the international meeting for the National Mastitis Council about the growing concern of resistance stemming from the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture.


There's been a lot of media around the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture and concerns particularly in the medical world that resistance could be being created in animals because of our antibiotic use and that could be being transferred from animals to humans, said Dr McDougall.


"Now the reality is that's probably not the case. In fact, the majority of resistance that's in humans is because of human prescribing and movement of bacteria and resistance change around human populations," he said. "But having said that, as responsible users of antibiotics in the dairy industry, we do need to be aware of why we're using antibiotics, how we're using antibiotics and be seen to be doing the right thing and in fact do the right thing about antibiotic use."


The key messages Dr McDougall conveyed are to only use antibiotics when a bacterial infection has been identified in the animal and when it is known that the antibiotic being used will be effective against the particular pathogen you are treating.


"What that means practically for veterinarians and producers is that we need to be able to diagnose the disease correctly, understand what the disease is, then choose the right drug to use for the right period of time," he explained. "But, what it always means is that we need to focus on prevention. If we can reduce the number of animals that are infected, we can reduce the amount of antibiotics we use and therefore, reduce the risk that we might create antibiotic resistance."


His message to conference attendees included a focus on disease prevention and good husbandry and management, including feeding and a clean, dry environment.


"From a mastitis point of view, it means having a good milking machine, a well-trained staff and using things like teat antisepsis in an appropriate way," he noted. "It's also doing good diagnostics - choosing the right cows to treat or in fact not treat."


Antibiotic use in the dairy industry is low, relative both to humans and to other animal species, he said. Yet, there remains a responsibility as veterinarians and as producers to ensure the health and safety of our animals, but at the same time not overuse or abuse antibiotics.


"We're in it for the long haul, and we want to be able to treat our animals in 10, 20 or 100 years’ time. If we do get antibiotic resistance in animals, we may be limited in what we can do," Dr McDougall said. "There's a risk the public will be concerned about antibiotic use and we may see the regulators/government step in and say, 'Sorry, you can't use these drugs anymore.' There would be real animal welfare implications because we may not be able to treat animals effectively. Good stewardship or prudent use of antibiotics is really important. As an industry we do a reasonably good job now, but there's still room for improvement."


Global Tightening of Regulations ...


more, including video report [5:26 min.]



EDITORIAL: Overuse of antibiotics in agriculture is slowing down


Washington Post

via Missourian - Jan 9, 2019


Very promising news about antibiotic use in farm animals has come from the Food and Drug Administration. The problem of resistance — the tendency of bacteria to fight back against antibiotic drugs — has been growing for decades, fueled by overuse and misuse of antibiotics in human health, as well as widespread and often indiscriminate use in farm animals.


But new data shows the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture has taken a marked downward turn.


As FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb noted in December, this is a costly public-health problem, with an estimated 2 million Americans suffering from antibiotic-resistant infections every year, leading to 23,000 deaths.


Mr. Gottlieb correctly pointed out that it is impossible to outrace resistance, but efforts must be made to "slow its pace and reduce its impact on both human and animal health." Otherwise, antibiotics, the "miracle drugs" of the 20th century, will become useless, and a foundation of modern medicine could crumble.


A large share of antibiotics, including those medically important to human health, are given to food-producing animals. While it is proper for sick animals, the industry practice for decades has also been to use antibiotics so animals will grow faster and larger on the same amount of feed, and for prevention of disease in a whole herd or flock.


The agriculture industry defended these practices by saying they were not the culprit in the rising tide of resistance. But studies show key factors in resistance are overuse and abuse of antibiotics on the farm, as well as in human health.


Farms and people do not exist in a world apart but in a "linked ecosystem," as pointed out by a predecessor of Mr. Gottlieb, Commissioner Donald Kennedy, in 1977.


The Obama administration proposed that manufacturers stop selling antibiotics for growth promotion and that veterinary oversight be strengthened for other uses. The FDA data now shows the fruits of this wise step.


There was a 33 percent decline between 2016 and 2017 in domestic sales and distribution of all medically important antimicrobials for use in food-producing animals — and a drop of 43 percent since 2015.


There are still some unknowns in the data...