New data on antimicrobial use in humans and animals - News & Features

1 November 2017
New data on antimicrobial use in humans and animals

Last week, the UK Government reported on two surveillance programmes, which measure the sale and usage of crucial antimicrobial drugs. These data also highlight trends in the resistance profiles of isolated bacteria. Both these reports point to the benefits of improved antimicrobial stewardship in the UK, but also indicate that the fight against AMR is as important as ever.

Down on the farm

The 2016 Veterinary Antimicrobial Resistance and Sales Surveillance (VARSS) report reveals that sales of antibiotics for use in food-producing animals dropped by 27%, from 62 mg/kg in 2014 to 45mg/kg in 2016. This is a boon for the UK Government, which had set the target of reducing sales to 50 mg/kg by 2018, following recommendations in the 2016 O’Neill Review on Antimicrobial Resistance.

In addition, less than 1% of the antibiotics sold for animal use were high-priority drugs – which are considered critically important for human health. This includes an 83% reduction in sales of the last resort antibiotic Colistin. Resistance to these crucial antibiotics also seems to have stabilised, and in some cases decreased, as judged from analysed isolates of E. coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter.

Health woes

In the same week, Public Health England released their 2017 English surveillance programme for antimicrobial utilisation and resistance (ESPAUR) report. This is the fourth such report, reflecting the health service’s drive towards improved antimicrobial stewardship.

Taking a focus on infections of the blood stream, urinary tract and healthcare associated infections (HCAIs), the data presents a sobering reminder of what is at stake. As an example, it is encouraging that the proportion of Gram-negative bloodstream infections (GNBSIs) that are resistant to key antibiotics has remained broadly stable over the last 5 years. However, 4 in 10 patients with an E.coli bloodstream infection in England cannot be treated with the most commonly used antibiotic (co-amoxiclav) in hospitals. So, while the issue may not be getting worse in some instances, it most certainly isn’t going away.

Facing the threat

Such data is crucial to our understanding of the issue in practical arenas, such as on a farm or hospital. These reports also highlight that it is becoming increasingly important to discover new drugs, technologies and to develop new strategies to combat AMR. The Society for Applied Microbiology will hold its 3rd Antimicrobial Resistance Conference in collaboration with the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Royal Society of Chemistry on the 23 and 24 November 2017.

Join us for this 2-day conference to discuss advances in novel therapeutics and drugs, as well as the issues related to AMR in wastewater treatment.