Archive for the ‘RUMA News’ Category

Farm vaccine use rises in bid to cut antibiotics further

Vaccination of the UK’s calves and sheep against livestock diseases has risen to one of the highest levels in seven years.

The rise in agricultural use is being put down to a better understanding among farmers of the role good welfare and husbandry plays in helping reduce the risk of disease spread, and therefore the need for antibiotic treatments.

This is despite a 40% fall in sales of antibiotics for farm animals in the past five years, which has made the UK among the lowest users in Europe.

The data, contained in an upcoming report from the agricultural levy board AHDB, shows almost 10 million doses of vaccine were sold for use in cattle in 2018.

Derek Armstrong, lead vet from AHDB, says the big rise has been in vaccines to protect against pneumonia in calves, a condition many vets would otherwise have to treat with antibiotics.

“Sales for this have risen 35% since 2011, with two fifths of all calves protected in 2018. Vaccines for another lung condition, rhinotracheitis, have also gone up by 50% over the same period,” he explains.

“Other good news is that one in five breeding cows now gets vaccinated to reduce the risk of her calf contracting enteritis: protective antibodies are passed to the calf as it drinks its mother’s colostrum shortly after birth.”

The UK sheep sector also performed well in 2018, seeing the highest uptake of vaccines in over six years, with almost 39 million doses sold.

Dr Fiona Lovatt of the Sheep Antibiotic Guardian Group says that for the first time since 2012, over two-thirds of all sheep which should be vaccinated against a range of important ‘clostridial’ diseases, were vaccinated; half of sheep were also vaccinated against Pasteurella, bacteria which cause pneumonia and sudden death.

“This is good news as we try to shift behaviour away from treating disease, to planning ahead to prevent disease and protect the flock,” explains Dr Lovatt.

“Despite issues with vaccine supply, the number of ewes vaccinated against diseases that lead to miscarriages has also steadily increased since 2013 – although further uptake would increase the number of live lambs born significantly.”

She adds that although sales of foot rot vaccine had been steadily climbing since 2013, there was a small drop in uptake of the vaccine from 15% of breeding animals in 2017 to 13% in 2018.

“Foot rot vaccination is one of the important elements of the sheep sector’s strategy to control lameness, and a key target for antibiotic reductions. Vaccine use should be considered if there are more than 2% of the flock lame with foot rot at any one time.”

Professor Mark Fielder from Kingston University, also president of the Society for Applied Microbiology, says the news of the increase in vaccine sales in the cattle and sheep sectors is to be widely welcomed.

“This news is timely as it highlights the potentially positive steps being taken by the UK agricultural industry to further limit the use of antibiotics and so help protect the drugs we have left in use.

“Vaccines are established and effective medicines that have worked well in agriculture and human medicine in the past, with some diseases such as Rinderpest and Smallpox being eradicated globally.

“This report emerges at a time when our status in human medicine has slipped with regard to measles following a fall in vaccination uptake. Vaccines have undoubted positive effects and are efficient medicines that have helped to prevent diseases globally. Their use and this report should be celebrated,” he says.

For more technical information on this announcement, please visit the www.farmantibiotics.org website. Summary tables from the report can be found here.

Farm antibiotics task force refreshed in preparation for new targets

A task force set up by the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance in 2016 to identify targets for antibiotic use in UK farm livestock has been refreshed, and convened in a kick-off meeting to start defining new goals post-2020.

With each sector now on track to meet most of the targets set by the original Targets Task Force in time for the 2020 deadline, attention is turning to the aims for UK farmers and their veterinary surgeons beyond that point.

Chris Lloyd, secretary general of RUMA, says that many of the ‘easier battles’ on reducing antibiotic use have now been won, making the next phase of target-setting more complex but just as important.

“With some sectors now at, or fast approaching, lowest potential use without risking animal health and welfare or food safety, I think we will see far more focus on ways to demonstrate the quality of management, and the health and welfare of the animal,” says Mr Lloyd.

He adds that new iteration of the Targets Task Force has 10 livestock groups rather than the eight in the last initiative. “Calves have been introduced as a particular area of interest because of the way they span the dairy and beef sectors, and the fish sector has been split into salmon and trout species.”

The first meeting took place on 10 September, and the group is due to meet next in February 2020 to gauge progress. As before, the British Veterinary Association, Food Standards Agency, National Office for Animal Health, Red Tractor and Veterinary Medicines Directorate will be observers, with levy board AHDB also joining this time. The new post-2020 targets will be agreed and reported before the end of next year.

The new Targets Task Force comprises:

  • Beef: Mark Jelley (producer), Elizabeth Berry (vet)
  • Dairy: Paul Tompkins (producer), Elizabeth Berry (vet)
  • Calves: Hannah Dyke (producer), Richard Cooper (vet)
  • Pigs: Richard Lister (producer), Richard Pearson (vet)
  • Sheep: Charles Sercombe (producer); Fiona Lovatt (vet)
  • Salmon: Iain Berrill (representing producers), members of the Salmon Prescribing Group (vets)
  • Trout: Oliver Robinson (producer), Peter Scott (vet)
  • Gamebirds: Paul Jeavons (producer), Will Ingham & Isy Manning (vets)
  • Poultry meat: Tom Wornham (producer), Daniel Parker (vet)
  • Laying hens: Paul McMullin (vet)
  • Observers: Clive Brown (AHDB), James Russell (BVA), Paul Cook (FSA), Donal Murphy (NOAH), Georgina Crayford (Red Tractor) and Fraser Broadfoot (VMD).

The original Targets Task Force was formed in 2016 in the wake of the Government-commissioned O’Neill Review on antimicrobial resistance, and went on to successfully define sector-specific targets which were announced at the end of 2017.

The wholesale industry engagement with these voluntary targets and the collaborative nature of the way Government and industry have worked together is unique globally, and has attracted interest from a number of other countries as well as from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety DG Sante.

The Targets Task Force initiative also won the hotly contested Prescribing and Stewardship category at Public Health England’s Antibiotic Guardian Awards in 2018.

 

Last call for Early Bird tickets for RUMA conference

With the final programme for RUMA’s third biennial conference on 29 October now published, it has been confirmed that early bird ticket sales at the discounted rate of £175 will close at midnight 30 September. From 1 October, tickets will revert to the full £200 price.

Using the theme ‘Building on Success’, the conference will examine whether recent progress in stewarding antibiotics can be maintained, and what needs to be done to better support global efforts to battle antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The role of media and public opinion in achieving positive change will also be discussed, and whether UK farming’s animal health and welfare and food safety are robust enough to take advantage of opportunities as well as address upcoming market challenges.

Headlining the event will be American journalist and author on public and global health and food policy Maryn McKenna, who will be dissecting the role of the public and media in driving change in medicine stewardship.

A senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Human Health at Emory University, Ms McKenna is the author of the books Big Chicken (published in the UK under the title Plucked), Superbug, and Beating Back the Devil. She is a columnist for WIRED and a journalist for magazines including National Geographic, The New Republic and the New York Times, and her work critically examines antibiotic use in agriculture.

The Food Standards Agency will be represented at a RUMA conference for the first time, with its chair Heather Hancock opening proceedings by outlining the regulator’s vision for safe, healthy food built on farm systems which are modern, productive and demonstrate responsible use of medicines.

As at the last conference, the latest antibiotic sales data for farm animals are expected to be released by the Veterinary Medicine Directorate’s (VMD) head of Antimicrobial Resistance Dr Kitty Healey; she will also provide recent surveillance findings for antibiotic-resistance genes within farm animals and their food products, and will discuss how the industry can maintain progress and lead the world in responsible use.

While antibiotic use and AMR remain key themes in the event, broader aspects of farm animal health and welfare, emerging resistance in other pathogens and wider challenges presented by disease will be debated. Behaviour change among farmers and their veterinary surgeons, and the economic and reputational opportunities of better health and food safety will be covered as part of this.

To provide insight in these areas, the following have also been confirmed as speakers:

  • Stuart Roberts, NFU
  • Dr Shabbir Simjee, RUMA Independent Scientific Group
  • Duncan Sinclair, British Retail Consortium
  • Aarti Ramachandran, FAIRR
  • Professor Julie Fitzpatrick, Moredun Research Institute.
  • Dr Simon Doherty, British Veterinary Association

Dr Christine Middlemiss, the chief veterinary officer, will be concluding the event with a summary of the learnings from the day and a call to action for the next two years.

Tickets for the RUMA conference can be purchased via Eventbrite, with places limited. Please click on this link for the RUMA Conference Programme 2019 FINAL.

 

British poultry maintains low antibiotic use in 2018

RUMA has welcomed the publishing of 2018 antibiotic usage data collected through the British Poultry Stewardship programme. Despite increased disease challenges during 2018, the British poultry meat industry was able to maintain antibiotic use at low levels with just 12mg/kg required in the broiler meat sector, 47mg/kg used for turkeys and less than 2mg/kg for ducks.

Overall this meant that the amount of antibiotics used by the industry increased slightly from 14.4 tonnes to 16.2 tonnes, nonetheless representing an 80% reduction in total use since 2012, and an 83% reduction in use of highest-priority critically-important antibiotics.

Gwyn Jones, chairman of RUMA, said that the UK poultry meat industry was continuing to show leadership in antibiotics stewardship by maintaining low usage levels in a difficult year. “The challenge for all sectors will be as they reach their ‘terminal low’ in use. At this point, it is about responsibly maintaining low levels of use without compromising health and welfare or food safety in the face of emerging external challenges and disease.”

The report can be downloaded from the British Poultry Council website at https://www.britishpoultry.org.uk/bpc-antibiotics-report-2019/

Farm medicine stewardship efforts join up across the UK

Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) are the latest organisations to join the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance, strengthening the farming industry’s ability to apply clear, consistent standards of farm medicine stewardship, and particularly of antibiotics, across the whole UK.

RUMA chairman Gwyn Jones says the involvement in RUMA of the two meat assurance organisations – alongside that of existing members the National Farmers Union of Scotland (NFUS) and the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) – strengthens the UK’s cohesive and voluntary approach to antibiotic stewardship which has helped to deliver overall reductions of 40% in farm antibiotic sales so far.

Mr Jones explains: “While HCC, QMS, NFUS and UFU have been actively involved in welfare and antibiotic stewardship groups for some time, being part of RUMA will ensure greater future alignment.

“RUMA now has deep representation in all parts of the UK, at all stages of the supply chain and in every main livestock sector, which will be essential in delivering the RUMA Targets Task Force 2020 targets for antibiotic use. In turn, meeting these will help towards achieving the UK Government’s 5-year action plan on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and the supporting measures already in place in Scotland and recently announced in both Wales and Northern Ireland.

“I can’t emphasise enough the benefits of UK farm and veterinary groups continuing to take ownership of their part of the challenge of antimicrobial resistance. That we can do it with clarity and mutual support makes our efforts all the more effective.”

The UK’s voluntary approach to stewardship, working in collaboration with the UK Governments, has attracted interest from other countries; the EU’s Directorate General for Animal Health DG Sante visited in 2018 on a fact-finding mission.

Mr Jones says: “The voluntary approach, which has led to the 40% reduction in farm antibiotic sales over the past five years without the need for legislative change, is making progress sustainable and cost-effective. We must stay focused to ensure that we deliver what has been promised and reduce any impact UK food and farming might have on the overall burden of antimicrobial resistance now and in the future.”

Sheep and cattle make progress on antibiotic-use ‘metrics’

A new standardised way to measure the amount of antibiotics used on-farm have been announced by the Sheep Antibiotic Guardian Group (SAGG), a sub-group of the Sheep Health and Welfare Group (SHAWG). SAGG has worked closely with the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, academics and vets to identify these measures, and is now urging all those who work in the sheep sector to support farmers in capturing the information. The document outlining the measures and how they should be recorded sits alongside new guidelines on responsible use of antibiotics in the sheep sector. More information at www.shawg.org.uk.

The cattle sectors are also moving forward in this area, with the Cattle Health and Welfare Group (CHAWG) releasing metrics for the dairy sector at the end of last year. Measuring use on beef farms in more complex, and so the beef sector has just released a consultation to determine which measures will be the most appropriate and practical. It is hoping all those who work in the beef sector, whether farmers and vets or suppliers and supply chain, will respond by the 23 August deadline. More information and support materials at www.chawg.org.uk.

 

Specialist in zoonotic disease joins scientific group

Nicola Williams, Professor in Zoonotic Bacterial Disease at the University of Liverpool, is the latest expertto join an independent scientific group which advises on the responsible use of medicines in UK farm animals. She will sit alongside other eminent scientists from veterinary, medical and microbiological fields, providing insight to inform the policies developed by the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) Alliance.

Professor Williams is a microbiologist with over 17 years’ experience in conducting applied research, primarily on bacterial zoonoses and antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Her research interests include reservoirs and transmission of food-borne pathogens, transfer and maintenance of antimicrobial resistance, antimicrobial prescribing practice, and the epidemiology of AMR bacteria in wildlife, livestock and pets.

Speaking of her appointment, Professor Williams said: “I am delighted to join this unique group and have the chance to apply my learnings at the ‘coalface’ of changes to animal medicine stewardship in the UK.

“I’m particularly interested in how some areas of current research could add to the knowledge base of this scientific group – for example, work I’m now doing in the UK exploring what drives veterinary prescribing behaviour so we can understand how change can be implemented.

“Other relevant studies concern the characterising of relationships and transmission of pathogenic bacteria between different reservoirs, including humans, livestock and the food chain, and the wider environment.

“We are seeing a far stronger focus on AMR in the environment now emerging, so I hope that adding my knowledge in this area to the scientific group will help RUMA to identify what guidance it should be delivering onwards to the farming industry and in veterinary clinical environments,” Professor Williams added.

Catherine McLaughlin, chair of the Independent Scientific Group, has welcomed the addition of Professor Williams to the team, saying her broad global and inter-disciplinary experience will add valuable breadth to the team.

Ms McLaughlin said: “Professor Williams’ experience in the transmission of antibiotic resistance genes among not just farm animals but pets and wildlife within a range of environments will be extremely valuable.

“One Health really does mean considering all these areas together, so we can ensure the most sustainable and effective approach to stewardship and reducing resistance can be taken.”

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, Reader in Veterinary Epidemiology and Population Health 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, Chief Medical Officer, Elanco Animal Health
  • Mr Martin Smith, Lead Veterinary Surgeon, British Quality Pigs
  • Professor Nicola Williams, Professor in Zoonotic Bacterial Disease, University of Liverpool

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.

RUMA welcomes farming industry wins at 2019 Antibiotic Guardian awards

A record number of entries for the Animal Health, Agriculture and Food Supply category in the 2019 Antibiotic Guardian Awards culminated in Kite Consulting and its industry partners walking away as the winner for their achievements gathering and benchmarking antibiotic usage data on UK dairy farms. ForFarmers was highly commended and Pruex was commended.

There was another win for the farming industry in the Research category, with the University of Bristol awarded joint winner for Lisa Morgans’ PhD project working on behaviour change with a group of dairy farmers from the South West of England.

RUMA chairman Gywn Jones congratulated the winners, saying the awards ceremony illustrated the truly ‘One Health’ approach that was emerging in the UK.

“Having Christine Middlemiss, the Chief Veterinary Officer, as the keynote speaker at the awards ceremony emphasises we are truly facing a One Health Challenge, and I hope that the excellent performance of the UK farming industry among the finalists shows how seriously we are taking this problem,” he said.

RUMA welcomes further fall in UK pig sector’s antibiotic use

The latest antibiotic usage data for the UK pig sector has been announced today (30 May) by AHDB, showing further reductions throughout 2018 to 110 mg/kg (2017: 131 mg/kg) alongside another fall in use of highest-priority critically important antibiotics (HP-CIAs) to 0.06 mg/kg (2017: 0.1 mg/kg). Colistin use remains at negligible levels.

This means the sector stays on target to reach its goal of 99 mg/kg by 2020, as laid out in the Targets Task Force report.

A RUMA spokesperson said: “We welcome the news from AHDB of continuing reductions in both total and highest priority antibiotic use in the UK pig sector, and congratulate all involved in this considerable achievement.

“Reductions and refinements in antibiotic use are always going to get progressively tougher the lower we get, so it’s very positive news that change is being achieved sustainably with attention to both pig health and welfare, and food safety.”

Data for 2017 use can be found in the 2017 VARSS report from the Veterinary Medicines Directorate.

Farm medicines conference line-up to include leading U.S. investigative journalist

Some of the farming industry’s biggest challengers have been announced as speakers at this year’s Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA) conference, to be held on 29 October at the Sainsbury’s Conference Centre in Holborn, London.

Using the theme ‘Building on Success’, the conference will examine whether recent progress in stewarding antibiotics can be maintained, and what needs to be done to better support global efforts to battle antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The role of media and public opinion in achieving positive change will also be discussed, and whether UK farming’s animal health and welfare and food safety are robust enough to take advantage of opportunities as well as address upcoming market challenges.

Headlining the event will be American journalist and author on public and global health and food policy Maryn McKenna, who will be dissecting the role of the public and media in driving change in medicine stewardship.

A senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Human Health at Emory University, Ms McKenna is the author of the books Big Chicken (published in the UK under the title Plucked), Superbug, and Beating Back the Devil. She is a columnist for WIRED and a journalist for magazines including National Geographic, The New Republic and the New York Times, and her work critically examines antibiotic use in agriculture.

The Food Standards Agency will be represented at a RUMA conference for the first time, with its chair Heather Hancock opening proceedings by outlining the regulator’s vision for safe, healthy food built on farm systems which are modern, productive and demonstrate responsible use of medicines.

As at the last conference, the latest antibiotic sales data for farm animals are expected to be released by the Veterinary Medicine Directorate’s (VMD) head of Antimicrobial Resistance Dr Kitty Healey; she will also provide recent surveillance findings for antibiotic-resistance genes within farm animals and their food products, and will discuss how the industry can maintain progress and lead the world in responsible use.

While antibiotic use and AMR remain key themes in the event, broader aspects of farm animal health and welfare, emerging resistance in other pathogens and wider challenges presented by disease will be debated. Behaviour change among farmers and their veterinary surgeons, and the economic and reputational opportunities of better health and food safety will be covered as part of this.

To provide insight in these areas, the following have also been confirmed as speakers:

  • Stuart Roberts, NFU
  • Dr Shabbir Simjee, RUMA Independent Scientific Group
  • Duncan Sinclair, British Retail Consortium
  • Sue Lockhart, Red Tractor
  • Professor Julie Fitzpatrick, Moredun Research Institute.
  • Dr Simon Doherty, British Veterinary Association

Dr Christine Middlemiss, the chief veterinary officer, will be concluding the event with a summary of the learnings from the day and a call to action for the next two years.

Tickets for the RUMA conference are now available on Eventbrite, with places limited. Please click on the following link to download the 2019 RUMA Conference Draft Programme PROVISIONAL

 

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