The scientific, agricultural and food producing industry is working together on the global threat of antibiotic resistance. The World Health Organisation (WHO), World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has provided some actions the agricultural sector can take.
But at ‘ground level’ in the UK, farmers and vets are already taking action. With growing concerns over resistant bacteria, new methods of rapidly diagnosing pathogens will be needed so vets can test and identify the bacteria before prescribing treatment rather than just reaching for an antibiotic solution that may have worked in the past.
Vets also have a very important job in helping farmers understand the need to complete a course of treatment and how reoccurrence can be prevented, in much the same way as doctors have a key role in communicating to patients the importance of taking the full prescription even if they’re feeling better.
It is going to be very important to record use accurately, as knowing and understanding use is the starting point for reducing, refining and replacing antibiotics. The British Poultry Council Antibiotic Stewardship Scheme was created in 2012, and a similar initiative was launched in spring 2016 for the pig industry, the electronic medicines book (eMB), a website where pig producers can record, review and optimize their antibiotic usage.
And innovation is helping vets and farmers work together to change diets, improve biosecurity and hygiene, reduce stress for animals and boost immune systems. All these will help provide the new thinking needed to reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance growing.