Antimicrobial resistance in livestock a global threat: WHO

Resistance is developing because of farm use of antimicrobials

While Canadian farms haven’t been shown to be a source of bacteria resistant to human medicines, tests at abattoirs have found up to 70 per cent of bacteria are resistant to tetracycline, says veterinarian and consultant Dr. Leigh Rosengren.

That shows resistance is developing because of farm use of antimicrobials.

And that’s a major concern for the World Health Organization.

“The inappropriate use of antimicrobial drugs, including in animal husbandry, favours the emergence and selection of resistant strains, and poor infection prevention and control practices contribute to further emergence and spread of AMR (antimicrobial resistance),” the organization says on its website.

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Here are some of the facts on antimicrobial resistance from the World Health Organization website:

Antibiotic versus antimicrobial resistance

Antibiotic resistance refers specifically to the resistance to antibiotics in common bacteria that cause infections. Antimicrobial resistance is a broader term, encompassing resistance to drugs to treat infections caused by other microbes such as parasites (e.g. malaria), viruses (e.g. HIV) and fungi (e.g. Candida).

Spread of antimicrobial resistance

  • In 2012, there were about 450,000 new cases of multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis. It requires treatment courses that are much longer and less effective than those for non-resistant TB.
  • There are high proportions of antibiotic resistance in bacteria that cause common infections (such as urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and bloodstream infections) in all regions of the world. A high percentage of hospital-acquired infections are caused by highly resistant bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or multi-drug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria.
  • The death rate for patients with serious infections caused by common bacteria that have become resistant is about twice that of patients with infections caused by the same non-resistant bacteria.

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