The Nuffield Farming Conference was recently held in Newcastle Upon Tyne. Presenting his findings on "Alternatives to Antibiotics in Agriculture" was Aled Rhys Davies of Pruex.
Delegates learned of the issues of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), that have arisen from human misuse, but could well be blamed on agriculture unless the industry develop strategies to ensure prudent as opposed to excessive use of antibiotics. Aled stated that "We have evolved in line with bacteria, around 50% of a humans' body is made up of bacterial cells, so, we can't live without bacteria."
A lively questions and answers session followed where Aled was asked his opinion of improved genetics in the fight against AMR. His answer, which highlighted that bacteria breed faster than cows, eluded to the importance of using the genetics farmers already have to limit any risk of AMR, by working with their livestocks' defence systems to prevent infection or to limit the effect of an infection on the animal. For example, giving colostrum from dairy cows that don't have any bad bacteria in their udders and low somatic cell counts to newborn calves. These cows have the best immunity to the bugs present on the farm. There are two other types of dairy cows on the same farms:
- Cows with bad bacteria in their udders and low somatic cell counts
- Cows with bad bacteria in their udders and high somatic cell counts.
Neither of these cows demonstrate strong resilience to the bugs on the farm. The solution therefore is to:
- Identify the cows with the best resistance to the bad bugs on the farm
- Using the Herd Screen system from Pruex
- Collect and store their colostrum to ensure each calf gets the best chance of developing an immunity that can cope with the bad bugs on the farm
- Using the ColostroStart system from Pruex
Herd Screen is a product that forms part of a programme that ensures prudent use of antibiotics.
More information on ColostroStart can be gained from this video:
Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), in human healthcare was a hot topic today at the Medica World Forum for Medicine held in Düsseldorf, Germany. The international delegation of attendees confirmed the global nature of the problem.
Twenty percent of the event floor space was dedicated to laboratory equipment and diagnostics. Every stand demonstrating diagnostic equipment or consumables seemed to be swamped by visitors.
At the event, Pruex were able to source some very interesting products to aid the prevention of microflora infection of both animals and humans. More details will follow soon.
There were some fantastic products on show from both British and Irish companies. Pruex would like to wish them all well over the next 3 days.
Prudent as opposed to excessive use of antibiotics is the safest way to limit Anti-microbial Resistance (AMR), according to Aled Rhys Davies, the Managing Director of Pruex Ltd.
Currently, in the UK, Doctors, Dentists and Veterinarians can prescribe antibiotics for treatment of bacterial infections. Vets being involved with prescribing antibiotics for food producing animals as well as pets.
However, this is not the case in other countries. In some African countries for example, the latest antibiotics can be purchased from pharmacies without prescription. If the purchaser has no need for the said antibiotic, or doesn't complete the course correctly, then there is a real threat of the bacteria in their bodies becoming resistant to the antibiotic used. That resistant bacteria can spread to other people rendering the antibiotic ineffective for future use.
It is often difficult to know if a patient, animal or human, has a bacterial or a viral infection. Treating a virus with an antibiotic is futile as it has no effect. However, it is also dangerous as bacteria within the patients body might develop a resistance to the antibiotic given.
Vets have to be extra vigilant when it comes to food producing animals. The antibiotics used have a withdrawal period. The food produced by the animals can't enter the food chain before the completion of the withdrawal period.
Compliance with this rule is strictly governed. It prevents food products with traces of antibiotics reaching the food chain. However, this strategy alone is not the end of the story. Vets also have to be sure that there is a need for the antibiotic treatment in the first place in order to fully limit the risk of AMR.
If antibiotics are prescribed and administered to animals that don't have a bacterial infection the antibiotic can combat, then the risk of generating AMR increases. Only by identifying the bacteria causing an infection can prudent use of antibiotics be achieved as a means of treating a disease and limiting the risk of AMR.
Pruex works with veterinarians and farmers to quickly identify the bacteria causing infections in food producing animals. By generating this evidence, only the animals that need treating with antibiotics are actually treated. There is no longer a need to second guess if treatment is necessary. By limiting the risk of infection on farm and by reducing the infection pressure on animals, consumers can feel reassured that the food they purchase has been produced with optimum animal welfare, optimum production efficiencies and in a way that minimises the threat of AMR.