Saturday, December 2, 2023

Do your bit in war on superbugs

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NZFS agency has advice for tackling antimocrobial resistance.
Take measures to keep animals healthy, such as keeping up them up to date with vaccinations and using good hygiene and biosecurity.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

NEW Zealand Food Safety is fighting back against superbugs – antimicrobial resistance – and it needs your help. NZFS deputy director-general Vincent Arbuckle said the World Health Organization has identified antimicrobial resistance, or AMR, as one of the top 10 global health threats facing humanity. 

World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, which begins November 18, recognises that this serious issue will need a global effort to manage. This year’s theme is Preventing Antimicrobial Resistance Together.

Arbuckle said AMR occurs when microbes, or germs, develop resistance to medicines, such as antibiotics. 

Antimicrobial medicines are critical to human, animal, and plant health, as well as the environment, but they lose effectiveness over time if they are not properly handled and disposed of.

“Antibiotic medicines are essential to the health of humans, animals, and plants. If they are not used properly, diseases can develop resistance, which makes the medicine less effective,” Arbuckle said.

 “Everyone has a role to play to ensure the appropriate use and disposal of antibiotics in their care to prevent the spread of AMR in humans, animals, plants, and the environment.”

NZFS works to reduce AMR risks in domestic animals, livestock and plants with a team that works with the New Zealand veterinary and primary industry sectors to promote careful use of antibiotics and encourage infection prevention strategies such as good hygiene and vaccination, and undertake surveillance for resistance in bacteria collected from animal samples.

Pet owners and livestock farmers can help reduce the risk by doing the following:

• Take measures to keep animals healthy, such as keeping up them up to date with vaccinations and using good hygiene and biosecurity.

• If antibiotics are needed, closely follow the instructions outlined by your veterinarian. Make sure you give the correct dose, at the right time of day, and for the prescribed duration.

• Wash your hands after dosing and handling animals.

• Make sure your animal completes the prescribed course. If for some reason you are unable to complete the course, let your veterinarian know so they can help you.

• Never keep antibiotics for future use because each infection and animal needs unique treatment.

• Dispose of the empty containers appropriately to help keep the environment safe.

Arbuckle said the 2022 Antibiotic Agricultural Compound Sales Analysis shows quantities of antibiotics used in animals have been declining for the past five years, with a 23% reduction. 

“However, we need to continue our efforts to preserve the effectiveness of lifesaving medicines,” Arbuckle said. 

El Niño Watch: Animal welfare tips for hot, dry conditions

In this episode, Phil Duncan reflects on a messy spring as dry spells increase and explains why the chaotic season will shorten the dry season when it comes.

Suz and Phil are also joined by special guest Ivan Holloway, a senior veterinarian at VetLife in Timaru.

Ivan talks of a benign spring in the South Island, which has been good for dairy cow health in terms of low mastitis rates, good cycling rates etc, but is cautious of what may be building as areas in the South Island are already starting to miss forecast rain.

He also provides vital tips on how to keep stock happy and healthy in hot, dry conditions.

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