By Jaime Abella Sison, DVM, FPCVFP

In line with the ‘Win the War against AMR’ program, supported by the World Health Organization, the Department of Health (DOH) has come out with a highly informative threefold leaflet entitled “Antimicrobial Resistance” (AMR). This refers to the ability of germs to transform and protect themselves against antimicrobials, which allows them to survive,
leading to dangerous health and societal consequences.

This happens when an infected person:

– uses antimicrobials incorrectly

– fails to complete the full treatment

– uses antimicrobials without a doctor’s prescription

The inappropriate use of antimicrobials as supplements (growth promotants) in animals also causes AMR. Antimicrobial resistance causes antimicrobials to become ineffective when you really need them. If a resistant germ infects you, it may result in:

• longer, complicated, and more expensive treatment

• the need to use toxic drugs or radical measures

• prolonged sickness, hospitalization complications, or possibly death

Ultimately, AMR poses threats to the individual, the community, and society.

How Does AMR Develop?

1. Infection: Every infection starts with a germ—bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites—that may be transmitted through
different means.

– Inhalation (also known as aspiration): the flow of air into an organism;

– Ingestion: the consumption of a substance by an organism;

– Person-to-person contact: the spray of droplets during coughing and sneezing can spread infectious disease; and

– Animals and insects: vector-borne.

2. Proliferation: Germs may multiply in your body even if you feel fine.

3. Illness: An infection may cause you to feel sick.

4. Management: An infection is managed by proper diagnosis and correct use of doctor-prescribed antimicrobials. These allow the medication to effectively kill the germs and cure the infection.

Cure: With appropriate management, a person may fully recover from infection.

5. Antimicrobial resistance: Antimicrobials may not always be necessary in the management of an infection. Incorrect intake of antimicrobials is dangerous and can lead to AMR.

How to Combat AMR

Protecting yourself and your family

• Practice hand washing and proper hygiene

• Have yourself and your family vaccinated

• Adapt a healthy lifestyle to boost your immune system

• Clean your surroundings and environment

• Cook your food thoroughly

What to do if you think you have an infection

• Consult with your doctor early on

• Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing

• Get plenty of rest and avoid unnecessary contact with other people

Using antimicrobials correctly

• Use antimicrobials only when prescribed

• Take the correct dose of the antimicrobial

• Always finish your prescribed antimicrobial treatment course

• Never share or use leftover antimicrobials

Public Confused About Antibiotic Resistance

A new multi-country survey shows people are confused about this major threat to public health and do not understand how to prevent it from growing. The majority also thinks that agriculture should use fewer antibiotics (AllAboutFeed, November 18, 2015).

This was concluded based on a survey done by the World Health Organization (WHO). November 18 was marked as European Antibiotics Awareness Day. Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria change and become resistant to the antibiotics used to treat the infections they cause. Overuse and misuse of antibiotics increase the development of resistant bacteria, and this survey points out some of the practices, gaps in understanding, and misconceptions which
contribute to this phenomenon.

Antibiotics and Viruses

Almost two thirds (64%) of some 10,000 people who were surveyed across 12 countries say they know antibiotic resistance is an issue that could affect them and their families, but how it affects them and what they can do to address it are not well understood.

For example, 64% of respondents believe antibiotics can be used to treat colds and flu, despite the fact that antibiotics have no impact on viruses. Close to one third (32%) of people surveyed believe they should stop taking antibiotics when they feel better, rather than completing the prescribed course of treatment.

Link with Food Producing Animals

Another key finding of the survey was that the majority of respondents say farmers should give fewer antibiotics to food-producing animals. More than 60% of respondents in all countries surveyed agree that this action could address the problem. The multi-country average was 73%, with respondents in China, the Russian Federation, and Serbia most likely to agree that this action has a part to play, at 83%, 81% and 81%, respectively. Respondents in Indonesia are least likely to agree. At 64%, and the highest proportion of respondents disagreeing with this statement was in Vietnam at 16%.

New Veterinary Strategy from EMA

At the same time, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) issued a release that its veterinary committee sets new objectives to limit risks arising from use of antimicrobials in animals. EMA therefore released after a public consultation a new strategy on antimicrobials for 2016-2020 adopted by its Committee for Veterinary Medicinal Products (CVMP). The strategy, recognizing that antimicrobial resistance is a global problem affecting both animal and human health, sets clear objectives based on a ‘One Health’ approach to help combat the threat of resistance which may arise from the use of antimicrobials in animals. The draft strategy is released for a 3-month public consultation (Emmy
Koeleman, Editor of AllAboutFeed).

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s January 2016 issue.