Does an­timi­cro­bial use pose a threat to hu­man health?

The Poultry Bulletin - - CONTENTS -

With poul­try pro­duc­tion set to es­ca­late by over 130% glob­ally over the next 30 to 40 years as the world’s pop­u­la­tion in­creases, the need for im­proved tech­nol­ogy in the breed­ing and rear­ing process will be­come a ma­jor fac­tor in guar­an­tee­ing sup­ply. Linked to this will be the in­creas­ing use of med­i­ca­tion to en­sure an­i­mal health and wel­fare, sus­tain­abil­ity and the op­ti­mal use of the re­sources avail­able. How­ever, such us­age car­ries se­ri­ous re­spon­si­bil­ity. Sur­veil­lance must be car­ried out on the use of an­timi­cro­bials and these must be care­fully man­aged to re­duce the speed at which an­timi­cro­bial re­sis­tance de­vel­ops – or AMR, as it is more com­monly known.

“Even now the in­dus­try can pro­duce a broiler chicken ready for the mar­ket in un­der five weeks. This is thanks to ge­netic se­lec­tion, im­proved feed­ing and en­hanced health man­age­ment prac­tices, which do, when nec­es­sary, in­volve the use of an­timi­cro­bials as ther­a­peu­tic agents to treat bac­te­rial dis­eases in in­ten­sive farm­ing op­er­a­tions. These an­timi­cro­bials can be used

ei­ther in feed or in wa­ter,” says Dr Jo­han Oosthuyse, CEO of V-tech.

“What is an­timi­cro­bial re­sis­tance (AMR)? Sim­ply, this is the po­ten­tial of bac­te­ria in an­i­mals, specif­i­cally those bred for hu­man con­sump­tion, to be­come re­sis­tant to med­i­ca­tion as a re­sult of be­ing ex­posed to an­timi­cro­bials if an­i­mals are treated dur­ing the breed­ing and rear­ing process,” he says. “There is the as­so­ci­ated con­cern that bac­te­ria caus­ing dis­eases in hu­mans could also be­come re­sis­tant to an­timi­cro­bials as a re­sult of eating meat from an­i­mals that have been treated; how­ever there is con­flict­ing ev­i­dence with re­gards to the re­la­tion­ship be­tween AMR in hu­mans and in an­i­mals.”

Oosthuyse be­lieves that AMR is a re­al­ity for both hu­man and an­i­mal health and one that needs to be taken se­ri­ously. Ac­cord­ing to the re­view “An­timi­cro­bial Re­sis­tance: Tack­ling a Cri­sis for the Health and Wealth of Na­tions” by econ­o­mist Jim O’neill, which was com­mis­sioned by the UK Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron in July 2014, drug-re­sis­tant in­fec­tions al­ready kill hun­dreds of thou­sands a year glob­ally, and by 2050 that fig­ure could be more than 10 mil­lion if pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sures aren’t put in place now.

“The real con­cern glob­ally is that an­timi­cro­bial re­sis­tance may limit the avail­abil­ity of ef­fec­tive an­timi­cro­bials in hu­man medicine in the fu­ture, and South Africa is ex­pected to play an im­por­tant role in the fight against AMR. Vet­eri­nar­i­ans and other health of­fi­cials, to­gether with com­pa­nies like V-tech, need to work to­gether to­wards achiev­ing the strate­gic ob­jec­tives set out in the WHO AMR strat­egy frame­work.”

Oosthuyse re­it­er­ates the im­por­tance of the man­age­ment of an­timi­cro­bial us­age with an ex­ten­sive sur­veil­lance plan and to mon­i­tor residue lev­els to en­sure that food safety stan­dards are ad­hered to through­out South­ern Africa, es­pe­cially in the poul­try in­dus­try where broil­ers tend to be more sus­cep­ti­ble to bac­te­rial in­fec­tions; and in turn, that the con­sumer is pro­tected against any pos­si­ble residue through the con­sump­tion of these an­i­mal prod­ucts.¡

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