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Is the use of prophylactic antibiotic treatments illegal in the EU?

Not at the moment, but the European Council agreed new rules in June 2018 to ‘better frame the use of antimicrobials in animals’ by limiting the use of antibiotics for animals that are not yet sick but may run the risk of falling ill, both in the case of:

  • prophylaxis: the exceptional administration of antibiotics to an individual animal only, where the risk of a disease is very high and when its consequences are likely to be severe – e.g. after surgery; and
  • metaphylaxis: the administration of antibiotics to a group of animals – e.g. herds and flocks – where the risk of bacterial infection or disease is high and no other appropriate alternatives are available.

Now that the agreement has been confirmed by EU ambassadors on behalf of the Council, the regulation will be submitted to the European Parliament for a vote at first reading, and will subsequently go back to the Council for adoption. The new rules will apply at latest in 2022