Mailen Agüero – Business Development Analyst
& Francisco Stefano – Director
The abuse and misuse of antibiotics in animals and humans are contributing to the increased threat posed by antimicrobial resistance.
The consumption of animal proteins presents a global and sustained increase, causing the expansion of intensive farming of pigs, poultry and cattle. The intensification of production in limited acreage environments has led to the massive introduction of antimicrobials to maintain animal health and productivity. The routine use of antibiotics (AMU, Anti Microbial Utilization) promotes the appearance of resistant strains (AMR, Anti Microbial Resistant), thus constituting a major threat to both human and animal health.
In an interesting study by Katie Tiseo y col, the evolution of the use of antimicrobials in 41 countries is analyzed. The data obtained in 2017 show that in these countries a total of 93,000 tons of active products were used as antimicrobials, a figure that represents 73% of the total used by medicine and veterinary medicine. In this period, the five countries with the highest consumption of veterinary antibiotics have been China, 40%, Brazil 7%, US 6%, Thailand 4% and India 2%.
It is widely believed, supported by solid data, that there is a relationship between the development of bacterial resistance in food animals and the emergence of resistant bacterial populations in humans.
Antibiotics are mainly used to treat bacterial infections and their administration to prevent disease is recommended only in very exceptional situations.
In Europe, the use of these drugs to promote the growth of animals has been totally prohibited since 2006. However, this is not the case in other regions of the world where they can still be added to the diet of healthy animals.
According to the WHO, the abuse and misuse of antibiotics in animals and humans are contributing to the increased threat posed by antimicrobial resistance. Some types of bacteria that cause serious human infections are already resistant to most or all available treatments, and there are very few promising alternatives under investigation.
These bacteria can be transmitted from animals to humans by different routes:
Finally, more research is needed to better understand the mechanisms by which resistance is generated, develop new diagnostic tools, as well as new alternatives to antibiotics and better disease control measures.
Tiseo, K., Huber, L., Gilbert, M., Robinson, T. P., & Van Boeckel, T. P. (2020). Global trends in antimicrobial use in food animals from 2017 to 2030. Antibiotics, 9(12), 918.
FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS. Drivers, dynamics and epidemiology of antimicrobial resistance in animal production. FAO, 2016.
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