Have you ever used an antibiotic drug for some infection and it worked perfectly…. Then you used the same drug for the same or another infection at a later time, and realized that the drug didn’t work as before? Or has that same thing happened to your pet, your poultry or cattle?
Watch it! You or your animal(s) may be having Antibiotic resistance!
Antibiotic resistance is when humans and animals become resistance over time to antibiotics that they normally use for common infections. This means that an antibiotic that used to work perfectly for your bacterial infections have stopped being as effective as before. Antibiotic resistance makes simple infections that should resolve easily more difficult to treat, thereby making the drugs useless and ineffective for your body system. Antibiotic resistance has become a big public health issue in both humans and animals worldwide. All over the world, various diseases such as gonorrheoa, tuberculosis, Staphylococcus, and enterococci are now resistant to antibiotics that used to bring cure for them, making such diseases increasingly difficult to treat. Also, a person or an animal who is experiencing antibiotic resistance would have issues treating wounds from trauma, accidents and surgeries especially in case where infections occur on such wounds. In animals, especially with pets dogs, poultry farms, cattle, sheep and goats, antibiotics are routinely and indiscriminately used for various purposes. While some of the antibiotics used in animals are not currently used to treat human disease, many of them like tetracyclines, penicillins, and sulfonamides, are also used in the treatment of infections in humans.
Causes of antibiotic resistance
It is common for people to use antibiotics inappropriately for themselves and for their animals – especially without proper prescription from their medical and veterinary doctors. Even more importantly is the fact that a lot of people do not complete their full dose of antibiotic once they start feeling well. Also, due to lack of proper diagnosis, a lot of people use the wrong antibiotics for the wrong infections without knowing that some infections are only treatable by some specific antibiotics. These indiscriminate use invariably leads to build-up of antibiotic resistance.
In most food-animal farms e.g., poultry, cattle, sheep and goats, antibiotics are routinely used to prevent disease outbreaks, to treat disease outbreak and also to enhance the rapid growth of animals. The problem remains the inappropriate uses of these antibiotics even when they are not necessary. This promotes build-up of antibiotic resistance in these animals which can be transferred to human beings when we eat these animals. The threat to human health resulting from inappropriate antibiotic use in food animals is significant, as the resistant bacterial organisms in these livestock are widely disseminated in food products that we eat. As a standard procedure, food animals should go through a ‘waiting period’ before being sold to the population as food . However, these waiting periods are hardly adhered to by the producers and farmers here in Nigeria leading to the transmission and spread of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics directly affect humans when they come in contact or ingest with antibiotic-resistant bacteria from food animals, or when they ingest antibiotic residues from food animals. Antibiotics indirectly affect humans when they come in contact with resistant organisms that have been spread to various components of the ecosystem (e.g., water and soil) as a result of antibiotic use in food animals.
How do we manage antibiotic resistance in animals?