In this file:
· WHO guidelines on antimicrobials spark debate
· Your Next Lifesaving Antibiotic May Not Work. Blame This.
WHO guidelines on antimicrobials spark debate
The Pig Site
09 November 2017
This week the World Health Organisation (WHO) released new guidelines on antimicrobial use on farms and within the food industry, inciting polar responses from veterinary and agricultural departments across the globe.
The guidelines come ahead of the first antimicrobial CODEX meeting on November 27th, where sector representatives will collect to discuss updating standards for on-farm antibiotic use in animals through a transparent, consensus, science-based process.
Responding to the WHO guidelines, the British Veterinary Association’s Senior Vice President, Gudrun Ravetz, spoke positively of the resolution:
We welcome the WHO continuing to tackle this serious global health issue. Their guidelines echo the guidance BVA has long been issuing on the responsible use of antimicrobials.
We agree that the prophylactic use of antimicrobials in healthy animals to prevent disease is never a substitute for good animal husbandry and management.
It is encouraging that WHO recognises that these vital medicines are sometimes needed, under veterinary judgment and prescription, as a last resort, to prevent the further spread of disease and to protect animal and human health.
However, US bodies such as the National Pork Producers Council and USDA, were less supportive of the issued guidelines. USDA Acting Chief Scientist, Chavonda Jacobs-Young, issued a strong statement on the validity of the evidence upon which the WHO guidelines are based:
The WHO guidelines are not in alignment with US policy and are not supported by sound science. The recommendations erroneously conflate disease prevention with growth promotion in animals.
The WHO released these guidelines, which according to language in the guidelines are based on ‘low-quality evidence’, and in some cases, ‘very low-quality evidence.
While the WHO guidelines acknowledge the role of veterinarians, they would impose unnecessary and unrealistic constraints on their professional judgment.
The National Pork Producers Council questioned the WHO guidelines:
Simply reducing on-farm uses of antibiotics, as the WHO suggests, however, likely would have no effect on public health and would jeopardise animal health. Its call for stopping the use of antibiotics that are critically important in human medicine for treating infected animals is antithetical to pork farmers’ and veterinarians’ moral obligation to care for their pigs.
The Meat Institute also responded:
Your Next Lifesaving Antibiotic May Not Work. Blame This.
By Clifton Leaf, Fortune
November 9, 2017
During the next 12 months, the CDC estimates that at least 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths will be caused by bacterial or fungal infections that no longer respond to antibiotics. And this problem, unfortunately, is getting worse, not better: Across the globe, 700,000 now die each year from such drug-resistant microbes; by 2050, according to a formidable blue-ribbon study commissioned by the UK government, that figure could well soar to 10 million, surpassing even worldwide deaths from cancer.
Antimicrobial resistance—or the rise of “Superbugs,” as the tabloids call it—is “one of the most serious threats to global health and security,” the World Health Organization warns. And make no mistake: the threat is also, largely, human-made.
Before I get to our culpability on this front, let’s start with nature’s. The problem, in a nutshell, is the superfast division speed of most bacteria, which leads inevitably to a revved up process of evolution. Under the right circumstances, a single E. coli bacterium, for instance, can divide into a 2,097,152–strong colony in a mere seven hours—and with each division comes the potential for mutation and adaptation, particularly if these organisms are exposed to strong selective pressures.
That’s where we come in. We mortals help push that fast evolutionary process into warp speed in at least two ways. First, we do it through our long practice of overprescribing and inappropriately prescribing antibiotics to patients. These ineffective treatments often leave in their wake surviving microbes that develop resistance to the drugs used and then pass along those adaptations to subsequent generations. As the saying goes: “Whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” (To see how feverishly fast resistant strains can emerge, see this scary timeline.)
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