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30 April 2008 : INFOSAN Information Note No. 2


INFOSAN Information Note No. 2/2008 : Antimicrobial Resistance from Food Animals


The INFOSAN Information Note describes that antimicrobial agents are important drugs for human and animal clinical medicine as well as for animal welfare.  To a large extent, the same classes of antimicrobials are used in animals and humans.


It can be said that antimicrobial resistance is associated with the use of antimicrobials in humans, animals (including aquaculture) and horticulture.  This INFOSAN Note, however, focuses primarily on the public health impact of the use of antimicrobials in food producing animals.


In addition to use antimicrobial agents for treatment or prevention of infections in food producing animals, the long term, low dose of antimicrobial agents sometimes are added to feed and water to promote growth and increase feed efficiency.  It is found that the long term, low dose of antimicrobial agent is prone to cause the development of antimicrobial resistance than treatment or prevention of infections with antimicrobials in food producing animals.


It is mentioned that there are the increasing of evidence of association between extensive antimicrobial use in the food producing animal sector and emergence of resistant strains in human beings. When resistant pathogenic bacteria are the cause of infections in humans (as well as in animals) this will often result in inappropriate and/or more prolonged therapy to cure infections. Therefore, antimicrobial resistance is considered as a public and animal health problem and an economic burden.  It is reported that the most common causes of foodborne diseases are Salmonella and Campylobacter


According to the INFOSAN Note, in the last decade, the public health concerns related to the use of antimicrobials in food producing animals have been addressed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and WHO.  As a result, there is an agreement on the necessity to develop management measures to prevent and/or contain antimicrobial resistance. These measures include:

-          prudent use of antimicrobials,

-          monitoring of antimicrobial use in food producing animals,

-          surveillance of emerging antimicrobial resistance in both the human and the veterinary sectors

-          appropriate education and training of farmers and prescribers.

-          Regulatory measures, such as a restriction or ban of use of antimicrobials (or some classes of antimicrobials) for certain purposes and/or certain animal species, have also been established, i.e. the ban on use of antimicrobials in food producing animals as growth promoters in the EC.


It is recommended that control of antimicrobial resistance due to non-human use should be a multisectoral activity which involves all stakeholders concerned with non-human use of antimicrobials.  Therefore, cooperation between international organizations and between all interested stakeholders is significant. 


It is concluded that there are many effective option available to diminish the risk of resistance in humans resulting from the use of antimicrobials in animals. The initiatives at international level and country level that could contribute to the containment of antimicrobial resistance due to nonhuman are also suggested in this INFOSAN Note.


The summary of additional information on activities carried out at an international level and the way forward are also offered in this INFOSAN Note.


Source: http://www.who.int/foodsafety/fs_management/No_02_Antimicrobial_Mar08_EN.pdf