Is antibiotic resistance in cattle monitored in the UK, and is there any evidence of clinical problems?
Resistance monitoring in the UK farm livestock industry is carried out via Government agencies, mainly the Veterinary Medicines Directorate and the Food Standards Agency. The most recent surveillance reports on cattle are contained in the annual VARSS reports, which examine samples from beef and dairy cattle for antibiotic resistance in a number of different pathogens. The Food Standards Agency monitors for resistance genes in food samples, which have included beef. Aside from foodborne pathogens, evidence remains weak that use of antibiotics to treat disease in farm animals is causing antibiotic-resistant infections in humans. It is acknowledged by both the UK Government and European Medicines Agency that the main driver for antibiotic resistance in human medicine continues to be human antibiotic use. Irrespective of this, the farming industry is aware that veterinary antibiotics must be stewarded carefully to remain effective in treating animal disease.