The European Commission (EC) has published new guidelines aimed at preventing the “overuse and misuse” of antibiotics in member states, with a nine-point list of proposals specifically dealing with pig production.
Claiming that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) causes 25,000 deaths annually and costs more than €1.5 billion in healthcare expenses and productivity losses in Europe, the EC said that the issue remains a priority for the EU and that “collaboration and joined-up thinking” of both human and veterinary medicine sectors is essential to tackle AMR at both an EU and global level.
In relation to AMR and pig production, the EC said: “When an infection requiring the use of antimicrobials is found in certain holdings, an in-depth analysis of the problem should be carried out, and steps taken to limit the spread, and prevent the recurrence of the infection.
“Possible measures to be taken include:
- avoiding the prophylactic use of antimicrobials in new-born piglets (and after weaning), as a part of herd health strategy;
- implementing an ‘all-in all-out’ system of production, thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting production units when animals move into, within and out of the herd;
- isolating the pathogen and considering a vaccination strategy where available (e.g. atrophic rhinitis);
- checking and ensuring that the ventilation system and general housing environment are functioning correctly and making sure it is possible to change the conditions if there is a high frequency of recurring respiratory diseases or environmental conditions are poor (e.g. in summer, when there can be a dramatic increase in temperatures and in the ammonia concentration in the environment, which, if the ventilation system is not adjusted, exacerbates respiratory conditions);
- establishing appropriate feeding strategies based on the pigs’ age, especially at weaning;
- avoiding mixing within the herd, or quarantining stock for an appropriate period prior to mixing;
- reassessing weaning management in cases of recurrent weaning diarrhoea (considering in particular hygiene, the age of the pigs, the use of ‘all-in all-out’ systems, ways of reducing the stress suffered by the animals and alternatives to the prophylactic use of antimicrobials);
- eliminating recurrent cases of post-partum dysgalactiae syndrome by ensuring appropriate selection of sows, good hygiene at parturition and adapted feeding;
- limiting the trading and movement of pigs to mitigate the spread of infections and organisms such as methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).