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Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a significant human health problem, with 10 million deaths from drug-resistant infections predicted by 2050.1 The use of antimicrobials in food-producing animals is associated with the emergence of resistant bacteria in those species,2 although there are now several studies suggesting that antibiotic use in food-producing animals is not the main driver of resistance seen in bacteria infecting people.3,4 The transmission of resistance in environmental reservoirs is believed to play a more dominant role.4,5
However, practising prudent antimicrobial use (AMU) is still paramount to reduce the development and spread of resistant bacteria in both animals and people. Despite there being reportedly low levels of resistance currently seen in food-producing species,6 reductions in antimicrobial treatments will have a positive effect on reducing the levels of resistant bacteria that could end up in our shared environment.7
Mastitis is one of the major diseases affecting dairy production and is the leading cause of antibiotic use on dairy farms.8 Historically, mastitis treatment has been aimed at reducing somatic cell counts by following the five-point plan,9 which led to the promotion of blanket dry cow therapy.10 However, blanket treatments are contrary to the principles of responsible AMU, as set out by the World Health Organization.11
The UK dairy industry has recently seen a rise of 9 per cent in total AMU,6 so studies aimed at reducing use are welcome. To this end, the study by Schmenger and colleagues,12 summarised on p 401 of this issue of Vet Record, is an important addition to our knowledge.
This study followed five German dairy farms over a period of two and …
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