The UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Antibiotics (APPG) has called for the non-medical use of antibiotics to be “critically examined” and for any non-essential use to be “halted”, listing several measures of increased control which it would like to see introduced.
The group’s report “Non-human uses of antibiotics: time to restrict their use?” has already drawn a sharp response from the National Office of Animal Health (NOAH) which says it “fails to recognise good work already done in animal health”.
“The global crisis of antibiotic resistance has reached a point where, if action is not taken, human medicine will enter a post-antibiotic world, where simple injuries could once again be life-threatening,” states the report summary, listing recommendations for action across many sectors of current usage.
In relation to the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry and aquaculture, the report recommendations are as follows:
- A global ban on the use of all antibiotic growth promoters in animals.
- Increased monitoring of aquaculture and animal husbandry welfare practices to minimise the need for therapeutic drugs.
- Increased investment in research into minimising stress and disease in aquaculture and farm animals, to limit the need for therapeutic drug use.
- Withdrawal of certain antibiotics from veterinary medicine, with specific classes of antibiotics reserved for human use.
- No use of any new classes of antibiotic in both animals and humans.
- Aquaculture facilities to be positioned distant from wild fish populations, to prevent dissemination of bacteria and resistance genes.
- Increased research into diagnostics in animals and fish, to promote targeted treatment and prevent overuse of antibiotics.
- Increased use of vaccination to prevent disease, with increased funding for new vaccine development.
In response to the 14-page document, NOAH says the report fails to recognise the steps that have already been taken by vets and farmers to prevent disease and minimise antibiotic use on farms where possible.
While backing proactive initiatives, therefore, to support the development and use of vaccines and other disease prevention measures, where they are possible, NOAH adds that antibiotics are, and will remain, necessary for vets and farmers to treat infectious diseases, in order to preserve animal health and welfare.
The organisation also states that some of the report ideas could be “counter-productive” adding that veterinary surgeons need to retain the full range of currently licensed antibiotics in order to be able to treat the range of conditions that affect animals.