Progress in UK Farming


In its Veterinary Antimicrobial Resistance and Sales Surveillance (VARSS) 2016 annual report released by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) on 27 October 2017 (covering sales of antibiotics for food-producing animals in 2016), the reduction in average sales was from 62mg per Population Correction Unit (PCU – equivalent to kg) in 2014, to 46mg/PCU in 2016.

Sales are now at the lowest on record, confirmation that the actions taken by the farming industry are having an impact.

Furthermore, this has exceeded  the average cross-sector target set by the government following the publication of the O’Neill report, to reach 50mg/PCU by 2018, two years early.

Source: VARSS 2016

VARSS 2016 report also reports that sales of colistin fell 83% between 2015 and 2016. Colistin sales in the UK are already among the lowest in Europe, but the fall means they have gone from 0.12mg/PCU to 0.02mg/PU. It was reported in June 2017 that the pig sector use of colistin had reduced use by more than 70% 2015-2016.

Sales of fluoroquinolones and 3rd and 4th generation cephalosporins have reduced by 29% and 12% respectively.

Source: VARSS 2016

Highest priority CIAs also form a small part of total sales of antibiotics.

Source: VARSS 2016

When comparing the types of antibiotics used to treat infections and disease in farm animals in the UK, alongside those used to treat human conditions, they tend to differ. The most recent comparison was undertaken in 2015 in the One Health report, which used 2013 data. The next One Health report is due out early 2018.

Source: using One Health data

The VARSS 2016 report includes usage data collected by industry but verified by the VMD. In previous years it was only usage data on broiler chickens that had been collected and submitted. One of the main reasons for the increase in available data this year was the concerted effort from the different livestock sectors to determine a starting point for setting antibiotic usage targets over the next few years. Some datasets were more robust than others, but they provided a snapshot of usage per sector, something which is hard to determine from product sales alone as many are licensed across many different sectors.

Source: VARSS 2016 and including data from pig, poultry meat, dairy, laying hen and gamebird sectors

In VARSS 2016, no resistance was detected to the highest priority CIAs in E. coli from broilers and turkeys at slaughter, with the exception of a single isolate from turkeys resistant to a 3rd/4th generation cephalosporin, and moderate resistance to fluoroquinolones reduced further from 2014 to 21.6% in broilers and 15.6% in turkeys.

No resistance to highest priority CIAs was detected in Salmonella isolates from laying hens, broilers or turkeys, other than a relatively low level to fluoroquinolones (1.7%-8.8%). Compared to 2014 there was a big reduction in resistance to fluoroquinolones in isolates from turkeys and a small increase in those from broilers and layers.

Resistance to fluoroquinolones was detected in a relatively high proportion of Campylobacter jejuni isolates from broilers (40.6%) and turkeys (34.7%), a small decrease in levels compared to 2014.

Resistance to erythromycin, which is the first-line treatment for Campylobacter infection in people, was very low in isolates from broilers (0.6%) and turkeys (1.1%).

With resistance in certain species tested every two years, VARSS 2015 looked at dairy cattle and pigs. It reported that levels of resistance in Salmonella and cattle mastitis pathogens remain broadly similar to previous years. Although 24% of the 300 pig samples taken were positive for the ESBL E. coli bacteria that can transfer resistance, this was similar to previous years and, as found before, highly unlikely that these were the same as found in humans.


What next?

Sector-specific targets for antibiotic usage have just been published by the key livestock sectors via RUMA’s Targets Task Force, which was responsible for developing these targets in consultation with each sector. The targets are summarised in a short film and press release, and detailed in the Target Task Force report. Following the announcement of these targets, each sector is developing a roll-out plan for ensuring these can be delivered. The Targets Task Force will be continue to meet twice yearly to track progress.

For information about specific farm livestock sectors, please visit the ‘Progress by Sector‘ pages.

site powered by penguins
Farm Antibiotics