Published: Thu, November 09, 2017
Health Care | By Alberto Manning

World Health Organization animal antibiotic guideline disregards science, warns USDA chief scientist

World Health Organization animal antibiotic guideline disregards science, warns USDA chief scientist

These guidelines are tighter than the current policies of the US Food and Drug Administration, which has banned the use of antibiotics for animal growth, but allows veterinarians to prescribe the medicines for disease prevention.

The over-medication of animals and humans further raises the existing threat of antibiotic resistance, which has advanced to a stage where there are no more medications to treat some types of bacteria.

The organisation says that antibiotics should not be used to prevent animals getting sick and has demanded global standards to tackle superbugs.

The second statement advises that "medically important antimicrobials that are not now used in food production should not be used in future production including food-producing animals or plants", acknowledging that although the guidelines focus on livestock rather than plants, using antibiotics on plants also contributes to antimicrobial resistance that can be transferred to humans.

The guidance calls for significant changes to current policies, including a general reduction of medically important antibiotics in livestock, a ban on using antibiotics for growth promotion and disease prevention in otherwise healthy animals, and a restriction of the use of antibiotics identified by the World Health Organization as "critically important for humans" in animals. Some kinds of bacteria that can cause serious illnesses in people have developed resistance to most or all available antibiotics.

Asian riseIn some countries, around 80 per cent of total consumption of medically important antibiotics is in the animal sector According to the Scientific American, the USA has moved toward reducing antibiotic use in agriculture, but China and other Asian countries have started using more.

It wants a global ban on giving farm animals antibiotics to boost growth, saying there is no good reason to do it.

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"A lack of effective antibiotics is as serious a security threat as a sudden and deadly disease outbreak, " WHO Chief, Tedros Ghebreyesus, said on Tuesday.

Wallinga, who served on the WHO's guidelines development group, calls the recommendations "terrific", adding that some countries already follow these best practices. Since 2005, the agency publishes a list of antibiotics critical to human medicine, to encourage a prudent use of these drugs to preserve their effectiveness.

"Healthy animals will not receive antibiotics for prevention of a disease diagnosed in other animals of the same herd, of the same farm or the same population in the case of fish", does it. In a statement, a U.S. Department of Agriculture official said the World Health Organization guidelines "erroneously conflate disease prevention with growth promotion".

The recommendation is one of a number the World Health Organization issued Tuesday with the aim of preserving the effectiveness of antibiotics.

"USDA agrees that we need more data to assess progress on antimicrobial use and resistance, and we need to continue to develop alternative therapies for the treatment, control, and prevention of disease in animals".

"Scientific evidence demonstrates that overuse of antibiotics in animals can contribute to the emergence of antibiotic resistance", Department of Food Safety Director at WHO, Dr. Kazuaki Miyagishima, said.

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