ANTIBIOTIC resistance in humans is a growing concern and more research is needed into antimicrobial use in animals to determine the extent of its impact on people, veterinarians warn.
Retired professor Mary Barton spoke at the Australian Veterinary Association’s annual conference in Perth on Monday and said the contribution from livestock to multi-drug resistance in zoonotic organisms, such as salmonella, was well known.
But in recent years, resistance to antibiotics in other organisms such as E. coli had emerged in parts of the world, Professor Barton said.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus in livestock overseas was also an issue, she said.
Professor Barton said Australia was better off than other countries, but noted information in Australia was limited without a systematic surveillance program for antimicrobial resistance in animals. “The information available suggests that multi-drug resistance can be a problem in livestock and horses, and there is a risk that vets and the general community could have increased exposure to these pathogens,” she said.
Not much was known about the transmission of antimicrobial resistant organisms by cats and dogs, but evidence suggested resistance was a problem among companion animals, as well as livestock and horses, Professor Barton said.
“More needs to be done to understand antimicrobial use in all animals and to what extent this is contributing to antimicrobial resistance to humans,” she said.
Pat Blackall, from the University of Queensland, said despite regulations around the world, there were still concerns about antibiotics in food-producing animals.
Dr Blackall said research on pigs and chickens showed that while antimicrobial resistance did occur, issues facing the Australian intensive animals industries were not as challenging as some countries.
“Public concern about this issue is likely to remain high, so it’s critical that both industry and veterinarians remain vigilant and proactive in contributing to the global fight against antimicrobial resistance,” he said.