New report on antibiotics in livestock

Antibiotics given to farm animals are unlikely to cause antimicrobial resistance in humans, new research has revealed. The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has welcomed the findings, questioning the EU’s decision to ban the prophylactic use of antimicrobials in livestock.

The research, carried out by the University of Glasgow, studied the Salmonella Typhimurium DT104 pathogen in humans and animals in Scotland, and showed that they differed significantly in prevalence, limkage, time of emergence and diversity. It also found that, in most of the resistances common to animals and humans, the resistances appeared in humans first, and concluded that animal populations were unlikely to be the major source of resistance in humans.

BVA president Carl Padgett said: “For a long time antimicrobial resistance in humans has been blamed in part on the veterinary use of antimicrobials and the result has been moves to restrict the ability of vets to use certain classes of antimicrobials.

“This research will be a hugely important step in our understanding of the way resistance occurs. While contact between animals and humans does lead to some transmission of disease and the potential transfer of resistance, the researchers state that it is unlikely that the animal population is the major source of resistance diversity for humans.

“The BVA strongly advocates the responsible use of antimicrobials and will continue to promote this message to the UK veterinary profession.”

The University of Glasgow’s research conflicts with common beliefs, as a Which? survey suggests that 64% of consumers are concerned about antibiotics residue in meat. Back in October, the Save our Antibiotics alliance launched a campaign saying farms should reduce their use of antimicrobials by 50% by 2015.

> Tensions build in antibiotics row

> Farms defend use of antibiotics

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