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Weekly Overview: New Focus on Antibiotic Resistance; Avian Flu Update

05 February 2015

GLOBAL - There is renewed interest in antibiotic use in farm animals with the publication of a new report that confirms the link between medical and veterinary use in farm animals. Retailers are taking an increasing role in the use of antibiotics in food animals as consumer awareness of the issues grows. In Taiwan, high-path bird flu in poultry is a major concern, while new outbreaks have also been reported in poultry in Bulgaria, Israel, Viet Nam and Nigeria. There has been an outbreak of the low pathogenic form of the disease in the south of England.

A new analysis of antimicrobial data in Europe confirms the link between humans and animals in the transmission of resistance.

The study by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) shows that there are also important differences in the consumption of antimicrobials in animals and in humans between European countries.

This is the first integrated analysis of data from humans, animals and food in Europe includes data on antimicrobial consumption by animal species, data on antimicrobial consumption in hospitals in more European countries and monitoring of resistant bacteria in the normal flora from both healthy and diseased people.

The strongest associations between consumption and resistance in food-producing animals were found for the antimicrobials studied in relation to indicator E. coli. Positive associations were also noted for Salmonella spp. and Campylobacter spp.

The retailer is taking an increasing role in reducing the use of antibiotics on farms as consumers become ever more aware of antibiotic resistance.

One of the new articles this week examines how oral administration of antimicrobials affects antimicrobial resistance in E. coli from chickens. The German study shows that the administration of a single antimicrobial resulted in a higher level of antimicrobial resistance in most cases, and this tended to increase when more than antimicrobial and/or higher dosages were used.

In the last week, news of outbreaks of avian flu in poultry have been reported in Taiwan, Bulgaria, Israel, Viet Nam, Nigeria and the UK.

The highly pathogenic form of the disease is making a rampant spread across Taiwan; the H5N8 and H5N2 have been reported to be responsible for 159 outbreaks involving more than 885,000 birds (mostly geese), according to official reports released in the last week alone. More than half of Taiwanese geese are reported to have been lost to the disease – and with the most unfortunate timing, coming as it does just ahead of the New Year celebrations.

Bulgaria has reported its first outbreak of H5N1 high-path avian flu in domestic poultry since 2010, while Israel has lost 87,000 birds, mostly turkeys, to the same strain and in Viet Nam, 800 more succumbed. Eighteen states in Nigeria have now reported outbreaks of disease from this virus in poultry.

The new outbreak in England is a low-pathogenic H7 form in one flock of broiler breeders.

China and Egypt are also reporting a spike in human cases of influenza of avian origin.

Jackie Linden

Jackie Linden

Top image via Shutterstock





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