Why safe antibiotics use is critical

Last week, the who-is-who in the veterinary world met in Marrakesh, Morroco for high-profile meeting. The meeting was convened by the World Organization for Animal (OIE), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agricultural Organization.

Next week, from 12 to 18 the world will observe the antibioticresistance awareness week; during which governments, human and veterinary medicine experts are required to publicize antibiotic resistance. But why should antibiotic resistance worry farmers?

What are antibiotics?

Antibiotics were discovered by Sir Alexander Fleming in 1928. Like most scientific discoveries Alexander discovered Penicillin the first antibiotic by accident. That discovery redefined bacterial diseases treatment and to date antibioticshave saved millions of both human and animal lives

Antibiotics are medicines used to treat bacterial diseases. They were initially called magic bullets in reference to their potency against bacterial diseases. Antibiotics literary search and "kill" bacteria in biological systems. Antibiotics either as tablets to be swallowed, injectable liquids or topical ointments. For optimal potency every antibiotic comes with the manufacturer's directions on how to use them.

For this reason, antibiotics should be prescribed by a human doctor or veterinary doctor. This unfortunately has been used in the past and is under dosing, over dosing or using them against diseases which they are not meant for. This then leads to development of resistance.

They are not only antibiotic but they are fungal, protozoan, rickettsial and viral. Examples of bacterial diseases in cattle, sheep and goats include anthrax, botulism, brucellosis, leptospirosis, listeriosis etc.

In poultry they include fowl cholera, pullorum, fowl typhoid, salmonellosis, and E. coli. This shows the central role played by antibiotics in animal husbandry.

Antibiotic medications. The sad news is that already the diseases are becoming stronger and in the future may not be treatable. Putting at risk not only the livestock farming.

What is antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotic resistance is the failure of bacterial diseases to be treated by medications.

Bacteria use several mechanisms to resist antibiotics initially used in their treatment. Misuse of antibiotics by people. It is projected to be in most bacteria being resistant to antibiotics.

So what can farmers and the public do to combat antibioticresistance?

Always consult your vet

When your animal falls sick, consult your vet. Do not inject any medication when you are not sure which the animal is suffering from. Remember not all diseases are treated usingantibiotics. Consulting your vet will ensure a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Observe withdrawal periods

Most farmers fail to observe withdrawal periods as instructed by drug manufacturers. Withdrawal period enable the drug to be broken down by the body and excreted or removed from the body. In this period, it is advised to be milk, meat or eggs.

Use footbaths

Good biosecurity measures on the farm with a footbath, observing cleanliness and quarantine of the sick animals is also important.

Be an antibiotic prudent use champion

Let's be champions of responsible and prudent use of antibiotics. Educate fellow farmers; sensitize fellow animal health professionals that antibiotic resistance is an expensive challenge and all must work towards combating it.

[The writer was the winner of Vet of the Year Award (VOYA) 2016 and works with the Kenya Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Eradication Council –KENTTEC, [email protected]]

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