Time to Vaccinate: looking beyond antibiotics – MSD Animal Health

13 Aug 2018

This report provides an overview of vaccine use across the cattle, sheep and pig sectors.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the most urgent problems of our generation. It is already the cause of 700,000 human deaths every year and this figure is projected to rise to 10 million each year by 2050 if the problem is left unresolved. That’s more deaths than are currently caused by cancer (O’Neill, 2016).

Antibiotics are used across agricultural industries, but increasingly pressure is being applied to reduce reliance on
these vital medicines, to maintain an effective treatment portfolio for generations to come. The industry is doing this
without compromising animal health or welfare and by using a selection of management practices which focus on disease prevention strategies as an alternative to antimicrobial use.

These include high standards of biosecurity to protect farms from incoming disease; good management, husbandry and hygiene practices to curtail the spread of infection within the farm; and high standards of animal welfare to promote general health and a strong immune response.

Key among the preventive measures is vaccination – the process by which the animal gains immunity or resistance
to a particular infection. Vaccination has always played a role in modern livestock farming in helping to control infectious disease. By preventing or reducing those infections, vaccination also has the scope to help reduce the need for antimicrobial use.

Through their focus on disease prevention strategies, UK livestock producers have already demonstrated the degree
to which they can reduce on-farm antimicrobial use. In October 2017, Defra reported that sales of antibiotics for
use in animals in the UK had fallen to their lowest level since records began, exceeding a government target two years ahead of schedule (VMD, 2017).


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