Understanding And Countering Antimicrobial Resistance
“The biggest challenge is raising healthy animals without the help of antibiotics. Therefore, radical changes in the industry’s management and mindset are needed.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO):
“AMR threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi. AMR occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change over time and no longer respond to medicines making infections harder to treat and increasing the risk of disease spread, severe illness and death. As a result, the medicines become ineffective and infections persist in the body, increasing the risk of spreading to others.”
Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) has surfaced as one of the major global challenges of our time. It threatens the very survival of human and animal life.
Dr. Jani was awarded a PhD in Microbiology in 2005 for his thesis on ‘Studies on Lactobacillus Acidophilus (Chicken Strain) As Probiotics in Poultry’. As Consultant - Microbiology at Hester Biosciences, Dr. Jani has played a pivotal role in Hester’s journey. He was instrumental in importing vital vaccine technology from the United States to Hester India. We sought Dr. Jani’s expert opinion on antimicrobial resistance, the challenges it poses and measures to mitigate its adverse effects.
A Fast Growing Livestock And Animal Population: The Global Scenario
The global human population is likely to reach about 9.7 billion by 2050. The Health for Animals Industry survey suggests that the global food supply will be the third biggest challenge while antimicrobial resistance and the control of infectious disease will be the second and topmost respectively. Thus raising productivity will involve a shift from extensive to more intensive food production animal (livestock) management.
- According to data from the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), there are 19 billion chickens, 1.5 billion cows, 1 billion pigs and 1 billion sheep, globally
- The number of cattle, sheep, goats, and buffaloes alone is increasing by 25 million annually according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Globally, poultry is the dominant species of livestock with 52 billion chickens slaughtered every year
- The global poultry vaccine market was valued at USD 3.05 billion in 2017 and is estimated to reach USD 6 billion in 2023. The global poultry production during the last two decades has increased threefold (Research & Markets, 2018)
- The global companion animal care market in 2016 was valued at EUR 90 billion and is projected to register a CAGR of 6.3% between 2018-2023
These trends show a fast-increasing interdependence and growing interaction between animals and humans globally.
With around 75% of all new human pathogens originating from animal sources, vaccines will continue to be a key factor in limiting the spread of infectious diseases from animals to humans in the future.It was estimated that during 2010-2030, the global consumption of antimicrobials in livestock production will increase by 67% (63,151 to 105,596 tons per year) and nearly double in BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) [Van Boeckel et al. 2015].
Rethinking Livestock Management
The livestock producing industry is a dynamic sector that has undergone enormous changes in recent years. Globalization means that food can come from anywhere in the world. Production costs and optimising efficiency have become key concepts in modern livestock production. To meet the ever growing demand for livestock products then larger scale operations, specializations and innovation will be crucial. The biggest challenge is raising healthy animals without the help of antibiotics. Therefore, radical changes in the industry’s management and mindset are needed.
- From disease management towards health management.
- From a strategy of curative medicine to a strategy of preventive medicines and biosecurity
- Focus on biosecurity i.e. how to organise or re-organise animal production in a sustainable way using less antibiotics.
- Include numerous examples and best practices from field studies.
Addressing Challenges Through Feasible Alternatives
Professor Jeroen Dewulf in the field of antibiotic reduction from the University of Ghent: “A problem should not be seen as a threat but as an opportunity to take the next step towards sustainable animal husbandry.” Taking the right actions proves to be economically viable as well as a win-win situation for everyone involved. Vaccines have the potential to reduce antibiotics. Vaccines and the other alternative approaches to reducing our dependence on antibiotics in food production should be explored urgently.
Alternative approaches that have the potential to tackle AMR apart from vaccines include:
- Phage therapy
Some of these therapies may complement antibiotics by preventing the emergence, rise and dissemination of resistance accompanying antibiotic use rather than replacing it.
The battle against AMR will undoubtedly be long and for the foreseeable future. We need to make use of the preventive measures that vaccines and many other alternative therapies have the potential to provide. By reducing the infections, we reduce the use of antibiotics, conserving those products for when they are truly needed. AMR is driven by many complex factors, but the overuse and misuse of antibiotics are among its leading causes.
Hester Biosciences is one India’s leading animal healthcare provider and the second largest poultry vaccine maker in the country. Hester has made a prominent imprint in the international market with manufacturing plants in Africa and Nepal that produce crucial veterinary vaccines for animal and poultry chronic diseases.
Antimicrobial resistance is increasingly becoming one the leading global challenges threatening human and animal life. Dr. Upendra Jani, Consultant- Microbiology, Hester Biosciences, and an authority on the subject, shares his expert views on antimicrobial resistance, the challenges it poses and measures to mitigate its adverse effects.