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Balancing responsibilities when prescribing antimicrobials for farm animals
  1. Peers Davies, MA, PhD, VetMB, MRCVS
  1. School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington Campus, Sutton Bonington, Leicestershire LE12 5RD, UK; e-mail:

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ANTIMICROBIAL use, and in particular, antibiotic use in farmed, food-producing species, has become the subject of increasing interest and concern over recent years. Regulatory authorities, medical practitioners, veterinary surgeons, farmers, the general public and others all have a legitimate interest in this area but priorities and perspectives can differ widely.

Public health and the maintenance of antibiotic efficacy in human medicine is generally accepted to be the principal priority for society. Addressing all possible causes and sites of antibiotic or antimicrobial resistance (AMR) selection should be informed by an evidence-based, risk assessment of the most significant sources of AMR selection. Unfortunately, there are huge gaps in our knowledge which presents problems when developing effective critical control points. For example, the misuse of antibiotics in human medicine has been estimated at 38 per cent (Kardas and others 2005) and antibiotic contamination of the environment from manufacturing plants have been associated with an abundance of related resistance genes (Rutgersson and others 2014). Placing veterinary use of antibiotics in perspective with these other areas of use is important when making …

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