The National Office of Animal Health (NOAH) has criticised a report probing the use of antibiotics in the animal sector.

Conclusions in antibiotics report have caused concern. Image: ©Thomas Picard/Freeimages
Conclusions in antibiotics report have caused concern. Image: ©Thomas Picard/Freeimages

NOAH commented following the publication of the report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Antibiotics (APPG-A) titled Non-human uses of antibiotics: time to restrict their use?

Chief executive of NOAH Dawn Howard believes this report fails to recognise the steps already taken by vets and farmers to prevent disease and minimise antibiotic use on farms.

“NOAH fully supports the need for responsible prescribing by both the veterinary and medical professions,” she said.

“On the veterinary side, NOAH has been very actively involved with responsible use initiatives, such as the RUMA Alliance, which publishes guidelines supporting responsible use and has produced an action plan on livestock antibiotic resistance to implement government strategy.“

While backing proactive initiatives to support the development and use of vaccines and other disease prevention measures, NOAH believes antibiotics are necessary for vets and farmers to treat infectious diseases.

NOAH believes some of the ideas suggested in the report could be counter-productive. The report advocates measures to reduce stress in animals to try to reduce susceptibility to disease. Yet it criticises the use of the highly regulated route of treatment to groups of animals through medicated feed and water.

Mrs Howard added: “There are many animal-friendly reasons why medicines can be prescribed in this way by a veterinary surgeon.

“For groups of animals, fish or birds there is less stress than injection or individual oral dosing. Where treatment is needed, the vet supplies a prescription for treatment through medicated feed or through the water, depending on the product being used. The whole process is highly regulated through European and national legislation.”

The report also suggests certain classes of antibiotics should be reserved for humans. NOAH believes vets must retain the full range of licensed antibiotics to be able to treat the range of conditions that affect animals.

Mrs Howard said: “NOAH is disappointed not to have been consulted in advance of the publication of the report. We believe responsible use of veterinary antibiotics is the best way to help preserve these precious medicines for us all, without compromising the health and welfare of our animals.”

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