The Seminar on Antibiotics at Evira gathered a multitude of experts

11.11.2010

<p>Resistance to antibiotics and the monitoring of resistance in animals and throughout the food chain, were discussed at a seminar on 9 November 2010. Almost 100 experts attended the seminar, hosted by the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira. The seminar resulted in the preparation of a declaration on antibiotics-related issues.</p>

In the early 2000s, the consumption of antibiotics for the treatment of animals decreased in Finland, only to begin increasing again in 2006. It now seems to have come to a halt. Animals are given remarkably less antibiotics in Finland, Sweden and Norway than in Central Europe. Little comparative data is available on the use of antibiotics on animals in other parts of the world.

Salmonella resistance in animals has been monitored since the 1980s. Since 2002, the antibiotic resistance of the zoonosis bacteria and so-called indicator bacteria, isolated from healthy animals, has been systematically monitored in production animals. In Finland, resistance is still low in these bacterial groups, as is the case in Sweden and Norway. However, the situation is considerably worse in many other European countries.

In some cases, resistance is already so common among some bacteria, particularly those causing diseases in pets, to make the treatment of infectious diseases in such animals complicated.

In addition to ordinary resistance monitoring, the occurrence of the MRSA bacterium was examined in swine and on swine farms. Although MRSA does not cause illness in swine, it was discussed if it may pose a risk of infection among people handling these animals.

In addition to MRSA, the seminar discussed the threat posed by so-called ESBL (extended-spectrum beta-lactamase resistance) bacteria. ESBL resistance has not been detected in Finland in zoonosis or indicator bacteria, but it is quite common in poultry in Holland, for instance. On the other hand, ESBL strains have been discovered in pets in Finland.

Finland leading the way

Finland has been a pioneer in many issues related to the use of antibiotics on animals. The recommendations on the use of antibiotics on animals have an important guiding role and those are renewed regularly. The recommendations were issued as early as in 1996. The purpose of these recommendations is to direct their use in order to control the resistance. In 1997, a so-called consensus statement was also issued on matters related to animal antibiotics, incorporating the viewpoints of both veterinary and human medicine. Cooperation has gone smoothly with all parties; it is fair to say that the current resistance situation has been achieved thanks to outstanding cooperation between animal breeders, various production organisations and veterinarians.

Because antibiotics used in animals and humans primarily fall into the same groups, it is considered vital that no threat to human health is posed by the use of antibiotics in animal production. The aim is to continue decreasing the use of antibiotics, by preventing diseases caused by bacteria.

New animal housing systems may impede the control of diseases and lead to increasing use of antibiotics. In Finland, the use of antibiotics is well regulated. In addition to monitoring the resistance situation, antibiotic residues in animal-based foodstuffs are also controlled.

Read the declaration (pdf, 25 kb)

For further information, please contact
Professor Tuula Honkanen-Buzalski, Director of Research Department
tel. +358 50 382 7996, tuula.honkanen-buzalski at-merkki.gif : 1Kb evira.fi

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