Alberta Pork Telephone Town Hall Tackles Antibiotics in Livestock Production

Apr 02, 2015

It's an issue that's getting more attention these days, and for good reason.That's why Alberta Pork addressed the issue of antibiotic use in pork production today in its latest telephone town hall.

In case you missed it, here are some of the key points from today's call.

For a PDF summary, click here.

Antibiotics in Livestock Production

Every year, two million people in the U.S. get sick from resistant infections and 23,000 die.

While we can’t do anything about bacteria, we can control how we use anti-microbials.

It’s a complex topic, one that’s growing in importance for a number of sectors, including the pork industry.

Unfortunately, what you don’t know CAN hurt you and the industry as a whole, so here are some key points around antibiotic use for your animals.

What Are Antimicrobials and Why Are They Used?

Antimicrobials/antibiotics are substances that have the capacity to kill or inhibit the growth of microorganisms. Microorganisms are single cell organisms such as bacteria, fungi and viruses that live virtually everywhere - in soil, air and water, and in the human body.

Antimicrobials are used in food animals for therapy to treat disease, control or prevent infection (prophylaxis), and promote growth and increase production. Although therapeutic treatments may be administered to individual animals, it is often easier and more cost effective to treat entire groups of animals by medicating their feed or water.

Prophylactic treatments are typically used during high risk periods for disease, for example, after weaning or transport. Most controversial of all is the use of antimicrobials to enhance growth or performance. That being said, however, the distinction between these categories of use is often blurred, which has important implications for achieving prudent antimicrobial use.

What is Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)?

AMR is a natural process in which microorganisms develop and express resistance to antimicrobial substances. Antimicrobials are widely considered to be one of the most important discoveries in the history of medicine. However, their widespread use has led to increasing treatment problems for a number of common infectious diseases, because some strains of the offending bacteria have become resistant to nearly all known antimicrobial agents.

As in humans, bacteria in animals can become resistant to antimicrobials through genetic mutation or when resistance genes are transferred from another organism. Although resistance can occur with any type of use, specific concerns have been raised about long-term, low-dose treatments of antimicrobial growth promoters and over-the-counter, in-feed antimicrobials used for prophylaxis.

What Can I Do About AMR?

Any time you use antimicrobials/antibiotics, you are increasing AMR. That doesn’t mean you should never use them, but by following a few guidelines, you can minimize the impact of your use on the animals in your care. In the process, you can reduce the chances of regulations around antimicrobials tightening to the point that they restrict or prevent your access to much needed disease prevention and treatment tools.

1. Use only products that are licensed for use in Canada.

2. Ensure that you are using antimicrobials appropriately. ie. the right dosage for the right purpose.

3. Use antimicrobials in consultation with your herd veterinarian to minimize your impact on resistance.

The bottom line: Always be conscious of what antibiotics you’re using, how you’re using them and why.

If you have any questions or concerns, call Javier Bahamon at the Alberta Pork office at 1-877-247-7675, email or contact your herd veterinarian.

Source: AlbertaPork

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