Saturday, 17 August 2013

EU considers restricting the use of antibiotics for farming

The European Medicines Agency has recommended that farmers stop using certain antibiotics , citing human health concerns.
Due to growing concerns about the overuse of antibiotics contributing to the global public health threat of drug-resistant bacterial infections in humans, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has suggested a ban on the blanket use of the antibiotic colistin for farm animals, as reported by the science magazine Nature.
The Digital Journal reported recently about a scientific report that revealed that farm workers who work on farms where high levels of antibiotics are used in farm animals carry a high proportion of antibiotic resistant bacteria compared with farms that are antibiotic-free.
The reason that many farmers have increased their use of antibiotics is for “growth promotion”. Here antibiotics are employed primarily in large, concentrated feedlots for poultry, swine, and cattle, in order to fatten the animals faster, prevent rampant herd disease, and help bring healthy animals to market more quickly.
The argument against this practice is that animals fed low-dose antibiotics not only propagate antibiotic resistant bacteria, but practices also spread these resistant strains to farmers, their families, community residents, and ultimately, hospitalized patients. One of the main concerns is with MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). MRSA was originally a problem within hospitals. However, it has steadily been infecting people outside of health-care settings since at least 1995.
The European agency is now recommending that colistin, which has been used by veterinarians for more than 50 years, should be restricted to infected animals or animals in contact with infections. A statement by the EMA suggests that the: "European Commission should determine the best way to amend the labelling and product literature for colistin containing veterinary medicines to reflect this more restricted pattern of use which is aligned with the principles of responsible use. The advice also recommends strengthening the systems for surveillance for resistance to colistin in order to increase the likelihood of early detection of any rise."
The European Commission will make the final decision about the proposed restriction. Discussing the proposal, Laura Piddock, a microbiologist at the University of Birmingham in the U.K. and director of the campaign body Antibiotic Action, stated: "The EMA recommendation is the precautionary approach, and is laudable. he reality is that we should question the use of any antibacterial agent outside of human medicine and until there is unequivocal evidence showing no effect of animal use upon human health."
The European Commission is developing an Action Plan Against the rising threats from Antimicrobial Resistance, which will be finalized at the end of 2014.
It has also been noted recently that several types of antibiotics, undertaken at Harvard University, can trigger harmful side effects in people.

Posted by Tim Sandle