The Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA) has announced voluntary restrictions on colistin use in UK livestock.

Cattle vet
UK veterinary sectors that use colistin have agreed to restrict their use of the antibiotic. Image: Budimir Jevtic / Fotolia.

The announcement comes after an article in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal reported the discovery of a new gene in animals and patients in China that makes common bacteria resistant to colistin, a last-line antibiotic.

Last resort

RUMA members noted the EU had called for a revised risk assessment on colistin use in animals and agreed, pending the results, that colistin use be restricted to an “antibiotic of last resort” and will be used only after susceptibility testing had shown it to be the only effective antibiotic available.

RUMA secretary general John FitzGerald said the veterinary sectors that use colistin – those working with pigs, poultry and cattle – were consulted and had agreed to restrict their use of the antibiotic while the risks were being reassessed.

He said it was a positive and proportionate response, particularly as the latest surveillance results reported no E coli colistin resistance in the UK.

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