'Superbugs' from animal antibiotic overuse a growing health concern
Sample tests from rivers near farms and chickens found resistant bacteria, leading the UK government to declare its intentions to restrict antibiotic use.
The spread of superbugs in humans is still a cause for concern among health and welfare campaigns as a ban on antibiotic overuse in farm animals is being called for, since its routine use leads to bacteria becoming resistant and producing such superbugs.
Although UK farming was dubbed a "leader" by The National Farmers Union for the "responsible" use of antibiotics, sample tests from rivers near farms and chickens found resistant bacteria, leading the UK government to declare its intentions to restrict antibiotic use.
A spokesperson from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) commented: "We do not support routine preventative use of antibiotics in animals - they should not compensate for poor husbandry practices and we will continue to look into strengthening legislation in this area."
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has been described by the World Health Organisation as "one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today" which comes after the latest data by the UK Health Security Agency shows that serious antibiotic-resistant infections in England increased by 2.2% in 2021 as opposed to 2020.
Antibiotics 'not as routine measure'
Per research findings, E. coli and S. aureus bacteria were detected among the range of antibiotic-resistant genes and bacteria strains, and researchers confirmed that at least one type of resistance was discovered at a high level in five out of eight farms.
In the report conducted jointly with Fera Science and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, it was suggested that factory farms were "likely to be discharging resistance genes and superbugs into public waterways,"
The EU had already taken steps back in January by prohibiting routine farm antibiotic use and treatments for animals to also manage the inappropriate use of antiobiotics, which ensued after it advocated for a ban in 2018 but the execution of public consultation hasn't been done as it said it would do.
Livestock farmers continue to "make positive progress on antibiotic use reduction targets", as relayed by Chief Adviser of The Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance, Cat McLaughlin, adding: "We must remember that antibiotics are important tools that the veterinary sector needs at its disposal to protect animal health and welfare against disease challenges.'
Just last week, the UK Public Accounts Committee said that the principal animal disease control facility in the United Kingdom is in catastrophic condition due to a lack of management and investment, leaving the country exposed to significant animal disease outbreaks.