Archive for January, 2019

RUMA response to the 2019 One Health report

We welcome the “UK One Health Report: antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance in animals and humans” report published today (31 January), a long-awaited review of how human and veterinary medicine in the UK have progressed since 2013 on the One Health challenge of antimicrobial resistance.

In farming, cutting the risk of resistance developing within veterinary medicine is a primary goal as we need to preserve the antibiotics we have to ensure we can continue to treat disease and – in doing so – safeguard animal health and welfare and food safety.

However, we also need to ensure that risk to human health arising from the use of antibiotics in farm animals is kept to a minimum.

We are pleased by the progress in both these areas from measures introduced to improve stewardship, pioneered by the poultry meat sector in 2012 and implemented progressively by other sectors from 2015 onwards.

This has resulted in a 35% reduction in total tonnes of antibiotics sold for use in all UK animals, which includes farm animals, pets and horses, and a halving in use of highest priority Critically Important Antibiotics (HP-CIAs).

This means that in 2013, 45% of antibiotics in the UK were used to treat all animals. In 2017, it fell to 36%. Overall, 26% of total tonnes used in people and animals was specifically for food-producing animals. Furthermore, out of the total tonnes of HP-CIAs used to treat diseases in humans and animals, 22% was used in animals in 2013 and 11% in 2017.

The result is that when tonnage is corrected by bodyweight of humans and animals, the use of antibiotics was higher in humans than in food-producing animals with 123mg/kg and 37mg/kg respectively. Both sectors have reduced their use between 2013 and 2017, by 9% in people and 40% in food producing animals.

As the main objective of lowering antibiotic use is to reduce the opportunities for resistance to develop, it is also good news that overall the report shows we are seeing a reduction in the level of resistance to critical antibiotics in zoonotic bacteria from food-producing animals and retail meat.

There is more to do, including delivering the sector-specific targets set by industry by 2020, but this report will be well-received by the farming sectors as it shows that their efforts are bearing fruit.

Additional statement concerning the communication of new Government AMR strategy

RUMA has been forced to issue a clarification following a number of misleading media reports covering the launch of the Government’s new AMR strategy published yesterday (24 January), “Tackling antimicrobial resistance 2019–2024: The UK’s five-year national action plan”.

RUMA chairman Gwyn Jones says:

“While we welcome the strategy, I’m highly irritated that the impression the Defra/DoH joint press release appears to have given is that Government has ‘imposed’ further targets on the UK livestock industry, namely a reduction of 25% in antibiotic use.

“What the report itself makes clear is that a 25% reduction on 2016 sales (45mg/kg) is achievable through the extensive industry-developed and industry-led targets already in place. These are due to be delivered by 2020, and achieving these would mean reaching a sales level of 33-34mg/kg, a reduction of 25% on 2016 sales and an ambition the industry is already on track to deliver.

“The impact of this lack of clarity has been a number of media stories that detract from both the One Health message that we as a country so badly need to promote, but also the enormous efforts of our livestock sectors thus far in achieving a 40% reduction in antibiotic use over the past five years.

“The voluntary approach our livestock industry is taking is very much alive and well. But I am extremely concerned that these false impressions could demotivate and detract from the plans in place, putting in jeopardy the ambitions Government is so keen to promote.

“I would therefore like to send a message to our livestock sectors to say that their efforts have very much been recognised and appreciated, and trust has been placed in them that they will not rest there, but will continue to work towards delivering the Government-endorsed targets they have set with the support of RUMA.”

New Government AMR vision welcomed by UK farm livestock industry

A focus on animal health and disease prevention within the UK Government’s new cross-departmental antimicrobial resistance (AMR) action plan, launched today (24 January) by Secretary of State for Health the Rt Hon Matt Hancock at the World Economic Forum at Davos, has been warmly welcomed by the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance.

The new 5-year National Action Plan was published alongside a longer-term ‘UK AMR 20-year Vision’, which brings together ambitions from human and animal health, environment and food chain sectors.

RUMA chairman Gwyn Jones said that together, the reports underline the 40% reduction in antibiotic use achieved by UK livestock farming since the last strategy was published five years ago. Furthermore, he added, they show the potential the industry has to be a future world leader in responsible use of antibiotics.

He said: “The new 5-year National Action Plan will support our plans to continue progress in reducing, refining or replacing antibiotic use. The chapters on food-producing animals focus on planning ahead to prevent disease wherever possible, keeping livestock healthy and ensuring appropriate and responsible use of antibiotics only where necessary to treat disease and protect animal welfare.

“There is also a strong focus on improving quality of data, a subject very much front of mind in the cattle and sheep sectors in particular at the moment.

“We are very pleased that these areas are already central to the individual sector targets developed by RUMA’s Targets Task Force in 2017. As we progress towards 2020 – when most of the targets need to be achieved – we will continue to see concerted efforts to target and eliminate endemic disease through improved use of screening and vaccines, which will undoubtedly increase animal health nationally,” he explained.

“As a consequence, we anticipate antibiotic use will continue to fall – and the aspiration expressed in the Government plan that the result will be a further 25% reduction between 2016 and 2020 is definitely achievable.”

Mr Jones said the next job would be to support each sector in looking at objectives beyond 2020. “These are likely to focus on maintaining responsible use and continuing to improve underlying heath, farm infrastructure, nutrition, genetics and preventative measures.”

Mr Jones added that he was pleased the narrative around the AMR issue in the UK had moved away from one of blame between veterinary and human healthcare, to a genuine interest in what each other is doing.

“For example, the potential presence of antibiotics and resistance genes in the environment is an area that is of growing concern to both medical and veterinary specialists. We are looking to boost our understanding of and action in this area by recruiting a specialist in environmental science to our Independent Scientific Group in the near future.

“We all need to work together – the risk of antibiotic resistance is a medical, veterinary, environmental, food and business challenge we all share. We are now working far more closely with colleagues in other disciplines and it’s evident there is much benefit to be had.”

Eminent medical researcher joins RUMA scientific group

Professor Sharon Peacock CBE, Professor of Clinical Microbiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), has joined the Independent Scientific Group which advises RUMA. She will sit alongside other eminent researchers and scientists from the veterinary, medical and microbiological field, providing insight and recommendations to inform RUMA’s policy on the responsible use of medicines in farm animals.

Professor Peacock joined the LSHTM in 2015, having previously been Professor of Clinical Microbiology in the Department of Medicine at the University of Cambridge. She is also an Honorary Faculty Member at the Wellcome Sanger Institute.

Her research group work focuses on the use of genome sequencing technologies in clinical and public health microbiology. Particular interests include translating sequencing technologies in routine clinical medicine to improve infection control, and characterising relationships and transmission of pathogenic bacteria between different reservoirs, including humans, livestock and the food chain, and sewage.

Speaking of her decision to join the group, Professor Peacock says she looks forward to contributing her knowledge of antimicrobial resistance, including evidence from the use of bacterial sequencing which – when combined with epidemiological information – can define how antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in people, animals and the environment may be related.

She says: “The UK farming industry is making great strides in responding to the challenge of antimicrobial resistance, especially in its reductions and clear targets. But new information is emerging all the time, and using this to target activities where they will be most effective will be beneficial for everyone.

“I look forward to working with this highly expert group and advising RUMA on policies that create the greatest opportunities for safeguarding antibiotics that are essential for human and animal health.”

Catherine McLaughlin, chair of the Independent Scientific Group, has welcomed Professor Peacock’s agreement to join the team. She says it is critical that RUMA operates to strict scientific principles and embraces opportunities to work on a One Health basis with medical and environmental counterparts.

Ms McLaughlin says: “We have seen a very positive move away from the ‘blame game’ where the medical and veterinary and farming communities blame each other for increasing levels of antimicrobial resistance. Now everyone is taking collective responsibility and working together really well under the One Health banner.

“We look forward to Professor Peacock adding further medical and environmental input to the group in its regular discussions.”

RUMA’s Independent Scientific Group, now comprises (alphabetically):

  • Professor David Barrett, Professor of Bovine Medicine, Production and Reproduction at University of Bristol (deputised by Dr Kristen Reyher, Senior Lecturer in Farm Animal Science at University of Bristol);
  • Dr Ian Brown, Consultant Clinical Research Fellow at Oxford University and Oxford University Hospitals and Chairman of the Government’s Advisory Committee on Animal Feedstuffs;
  • Professor Mark Fielder, Professor of Medical Microbiology at Kingston University;
  • Professor Nigel Gibbens, former Chief Veterinary Officer and consultant with Itinerant Vets Ltd;
  • Mr Daniel Parker, avian expert for UK government, technical advisor to the British Poultry Council and lecturer at Cambridge University Veterinary School;
  • Professor Sharon Peacock, Professor of Clinical Microbiology at LSHTM
  • Dr Shabbir Simjee, Technical Advisor in Microbiology & Antimicrobials, Elanco Animal Health;
  • Mr Martin Smith, Lead Veterinary Surgeon, British Quality Pigs

Since 2014, the UK livestock farming industry has reduced use of antibiotics by 40% and is currently working on reaching a number of sector-specific targets for reducing, refining or replacing antibiotic use by 2020.

 

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