We have previously provided an introduction to the meaning and implications of antibiotic resistance including a brief discussion on the action plan on antimicrobial resistance as provided by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). Here we bring you added information as we continue to join advocacy efforts at combating the current increase in global antimicrobial resistance.
Antimicrobial drugs play a very critical role in the treatment and prevention of varying disease conditions in animals, humans, aquaculture and even crop production. However, in light of their numerous advantages, they are constantly misused leading to antimicrobial resistance. As a result of this gross misuse of antimicrobial drugs worldwide, we now have the potential risk of emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistant micro-organisms.
There are evidences that support the fact that the emergence of Antimicrobial resistance in bacteria in livestock production is connected to the emergence of Antimicrobial resistance in bacteria that colonize and infect the human population. It is therefore expedient to examine the different actions and activities within the Livestock sector that has inadvertently resulted into antimicrobial resistance in human. In a bid to keep diseases off a livestock farm (a poultry farm as a case study), farmers place different measures because financial sustainability and gain is of premium importance. Such measures include proper and adequate ventilation, temperature control, vaccination, biosecurity, adequate nutrition, housing, quarantine and proper spacing. As an added measure, antimicrobials are also used (albeit indiscriminately) for non-therapeutic preventive purposes to avoid future occurrence of disease conditions.
There are different factors that are crucial to the emergence of Antimicrobial resistance and they include,
- Widespread antimicrobial use: The widespread use of antimicrobials in agriculture, healthcare, aquaculture and horticulture can be identified as one of the drivers of antimicrobial resistance.
- Antimicrobial growth promoters: The use of antimicrobial growth promoters as feed additives in intensively produced animals has being found to alter the gut microbiota of treated animals and promote resistance transfer within the animal and environmental microbiome. The antimicrobial growth promoters are administered at sub-therapeutic doses to livestock animals through drinking of water or feed which are sold and used indiscriminately without veterinary prescription or supervision.
- Prophylaxis treatment: This is a type of treatment that involves the use of antimicrobials on susceptible but healthy animals to prevent the occurrence of diseases.
- Metaphylaxis: the administration of antimicrobials to a group of animals in which some of the animals in the group have exhibited signs of infection while others are healthy but risks becoming infected. It acts as a curative and preventive measure at the same time.
Antimicrobial resistance is rising to a new higher level and there are growing list of infections that are becoming difficult and sometimes impossible to treat. This include tuberculosis, pneumonia, foodborne diseases, gonorrhea and blood poisoning. In addition resistance to tetracycline, penicillins and sulphonamides has been recorded among animals and humans alike. This scourge of antimicrobial resistance is growing at an alarming rate globally and if care is not taken, the world might be back to the dark age where common infections and minor injuries can kill easily. It is therefore expedient that individuals and professionals employ measures that will reduce the spate of antimicrobial resistance. These include taking care of the following measures.
- Individuals should use antimicrobials when prescribed by a qualified medical professional.
- Do not demand for antimicrobials if your physician says you do not need them
- Always adhere to the instruction of the physician on the use of antimicrobials
- Do not share or use leftover antimicrobials and always complete your recommended dosage of antibiotic prescription even when you feel well and healthy
- Prevent infections by regularly ensuring clean and hygienic body and environment which includes, washing of hands, preparing food hygienically, practicing safer sex and comply with vaccination schedule.
For Veterinarians and animal care-givers
- Antimicrobials should be given to animal patients under veterinary supervision only.
- The use of antibiotics and certain probiotics as growth promoters and for prevention of diseases should be drastically limited.
- Animals should be duly vaccinated at the recommended times to prevent diseases in livestock of livestock.
- The veterinarian should promote and apply best practices at all steps of production and processing of foods from animal and plant sources.
- Veterinarians should ensure and improve the biosecurity on farms and prevent infections through improved animal welfare.
In addition, government as the policy makers obviously have key roles to play with regards to how we can put an end to antimicrobial resistance in other to save the future. These include –
- Adopting a robust national action plan to tackle antimicrobial resistance
- Improving surveillance on antimicrobial resistant infections.
- Strengthening policies, programs and implementation of the prevention of infection and the control measures.
- Regulating and promoting the appropriate use and disposal of quality medicines.
- Providing and promoting widespread information on the impact of antimicrobial resistance.