Anti-microbial resistance is a global problem that risks the health of both people and animals, making treatments more complicated and expensive, and risking lives. So just what is anti-microbial resistance, why is it a problem and what can we do within the farming industry to slow down its impact?
What is anti-microbial resistance?
Anti-microbial resistance is a naturally occurring phenomena, in which bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites become immune to treatments aimed at eliminating them. This resistance happens through random genetic mutation, but the overuse of anti-microbial drugs has been shown to significantly speed up the process.
Once anti-microbial resistance has developed, drugs are no longer effective as a treatment. In many human diseases, we are down to our last line of defence, and some microbes have become so multi-drug resistant that they are referred to as superbugs.
How does anti-microbial use in animals affect people?
Anti-microbial resistance is a major problem for farmers, as disease outbreaks become more virulent and require more complex and expensive treatment regimes. Unfortunately, that is just the beginning of the problem. A 2016 report by for the British Government reviewed 139 academic papers and discovered that 72% of authors found direct evidence of a link between anti-microbial resistance in animals and in humans, while just 5% of papers argued that there was no link.
How big a problem is anti-microbial resistance?
It is estimated that between 70% and 80% of all antibiotics used worldwide are used in animals, with a total annual usage estimated to be around 131,000 tonnes. This is expected to grow to 200,000 tonnes a year by 2030, with many last resort antibiotics for humans still used extensively in animals. Worldwide, it is estimated that between 700,000 and several million deaths per year can be attributed to anti-microbial resistance and these figures are expected to rise in the coming decades.
What can be done to reduce anti-microbial resistance?
“Strong, sustained action across all sectors is vital if we are to turn back the tide of antimicrobial resistance and keep the world safe," says World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Europe has already led the way by banning antibiotic use as a growth stimulant in 2006, and the UK currently has some of the tightest restrictions on anti-microbial use in the world. In fact, the UK hit its target of reducing antibiotics to below 50mg per kg of meat two years ahead of the 2018 goal.
Trust Kilco to help with hygiene
The WHO recommends increased hygiene within animal housing as one way to reduce the need for anti-microbial products, and here at Kilco we are supporting British and Irish farmers as they work to achieve just that. Kilco offers a range of detergents and disinfectants that promote animal health and hygiene, significantly reducing the risks of infection and disease and thus removing the need for veterinary treatments that can lead to anti-microbial resistance.
We must act now
Reducing antimicrobial use within farming is both urgent and inescapable if we are to protect the health of both people and animals. As Dr Ghebreyesus explains, the alternative is stark. “A lack of effective antibiotics would be as serious a security threat as a sudden and deadly disease outbreak.” To find out more about how you can play your part in the health of the planet, contact your local Kilco representative today.
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