European Antibiotic Awareness Day: A further decrease in the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics in Austrian dairy cows is necessary

Treatment with antibiotics is less frequent for dairy cows. The use of broad-spectrum antibiotics such as cephalosporins should be reduced to avoid resistence to these antibiotics. (Photo: Michael Bernkopf/Vetmeduni Vienna)

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Today’s European Antibiotic Awareness Day demonstrates the necessity of the responsible use of antimicrobial substances in both humans and animals to prevent the development of antibiotic resistance. A study on the use of antibiotics on Austrian dairy farms by the Institute of Veterinary Public Health at Vetmeduni Vienna showed that dairy cattle are less frequently treated with antibiotics than pigs and poultry. The use of broad-spectrum antibiotics such as cephalosporins should nevertheless be reduced to avoid resistance to these important antibiotics. The study was published in the Berliner and Münchner Tierärztlichen Wochenschrift.

Certain broadband antibiotics, such as macrolides, fluoroquinolones and cephalosporins, are crucial for human medicine. Few substitute therapies exist for these drugs, which are consequently classified by the WHO as the Highest Priority Critically Important Antimicrobials (HPCIAs). Through the consumption of foods such as meat and milk, resistant bacteria could be transferred from livestock to humans. In veterinary medicine, these antibiotics should therefore only be used to treat in individual cases, after confirmation of the diagnosis and according to strict limitations.

Pilot study on antibiotic treatments for dairy cows in AustriaThe collection of antibiotic use data can play a significant role in combating the development of resistance in bacterial pathogens. In 2016, the Institute of Veterinary Public Health published a study on the use of antibiotics in dairy cows. In total, the study included 8027 records of antibiotic use on 465 Austrian dairy farms between 2008 and 2010. The researchers determined the amount of antimicrobial substances used and statistically analysed the dosage used per animal and year. Of specific focus was the use of the HPCIAs, i.e. the antimicrobial substances with particular importance for human health.

Dairy cattle rarely treated with antibiotics compared to pigs and poultry: improvement still possible

It was determined that dairy cows are much less frequently treated with antibiotics than poultry and pigs. Nevertheless, around 25 percent of the antibiotics used were attributable to HPCIAs, in particular to cephalosporins. "

 The results of this study will help to critically assess the use of antibiotics, in particular the HPCIAs. The responsible use of antibiotics helps to prevent the development and spread of resistant bacteria.

European Antibiotic Awareness Day

The European Antibiotic Awareness Day was introduced in 2008 and takes place annually on the 18th November. The EAAD is a European initiative and aims to attract attention to the prudent use of antibiotics in both humans and animals.

Read the press release "A further decrease in the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics in Austrian dairy cows is necessary" for further information. 2

 

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