Latest UK Veterinary Antibiotic Resistance and Sales Surveillance figures show antimicrobial use in food-producing animals has decreased.
UK CVO Nigel Gibbens has urged small animal practitioners to take “a hard look” at the way they prescribe antimicrobials, following the publication of the latest UK Veterinary Antibiotic Resistance and Sales Surveillance (VARSS) figures that show antimicrobial use in food-producing animals has fallen by more than 27% in the last two years – the lowest level since records began.
A drop in usage from 62mg/kg in 2014 to 45mg/kg in 2016 means a Government target of 50mg/kg – set following recommendations in the 2016 O’Neill Review on antimicrobial resistance – has been hit two years ahead of schedule.
While Prof Gibbens welcomed the reduction in usage of antimicrobials in the farming sector, he was quick to point out more work needed to be done, particularly in the companion and equine sector, where he said figures were “not great”.
“We won’t forget we need to deal with that,” Prof Gibbens commented at the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) conference on 27 October, where the statistics were revealed.
“This has been a day about the livestock sectors and the great things you are doing, and the challenges you still face. But we do need to deal with this… right across animal use. We need to take a hard look at that, find out why it is, make sure it goes down where possible and is the right sort of antibiotic at the right time”, Prof Gibbens added.
BVA senior vice-president Gudrun Ravetz said the data marked a major milestone in the concerted effort of vets, Government and industry to tackle the global threat of antimicrobial resistance.
She said: “It is extremely encouraging to see reductions in antibiotic use, including critically important antibiotics across all livestock industries, for which data was made available this year.
“It is vital we continue to build on these achievements through evidence-based, sector-specific targets to further refine, reduce or replace antibiotic use in the livestock sector.”