In fact, it was good news when the Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection and Food Safety announced last year that farmers in Germany were using less antibiotics in livestock.
Because the use of such agents in breeding animals is problematic, as improper use can create resistant germs, against which hardly a single drug works. Such bacteria and antibiotic resistant genes can be transmitted between humans and animals. This is how pigs or chickens get into trouble.
However, such problems are increasing globally, as shown by a new study published in the journal Science. Particularly in emerging countries, the proportion of antibiotic-resistant pathogens in the mast of animals has increased. The largest foci of resistance exist in China and India. According to researchers, such problem areas are currently emerging in Brazil and Kenya.
Animal nutrition is used three times as many antibiotics and similar drugs in the world as in human medicine, scientists write. Large and growing use is, among other things, a direct result of the increasing hunger for meat: Although meat production in industrialized countries has been stagnant since 2000, it is in Africa (plus 68 percent), Asia (plus 64 percent) and South America (plus 40 percent) )) has grown significantly.
Antimicrobials – agents that act against infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses or fungi – are often routinely used in countries to establish intensive livestock systems while maintaining the health and productivity of animals, according to scientists at Thomas Van Boeckel of ETH Zurich. The funds would be used to prevent and treat animals, but also to increase weight gain. Under the Veterinary Medicines Act, preventative treatment of animal fattening in the EU is in principle not allowed and the funds should not be used to increase its effectiveness.
Particularly in emerging markets, the use of medicines is not well documented. Researchers have now estimated a total of 901 studies from these countries, which at least give insight into the situation there.
The proportion of antibiotics that thrive in at least 50 percent of cases in chickens and pigs has therefore increased dramatically between 2000 and 2018. Currently, one-third of antibiotics in 50 percent of cases perish in chickens and one-fourth in 50 percent of cases in pigs. "This disturbing trend shows that medicines used in animal breeding are losing their effectiveness rapidly," Van Boeckel says, according to an ETH statement. Thus, most drug resistance was against commonly used drugs: tetracyclines, sulfonamides, penicillins, and quinolones.
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Antibiotic resistance is a global problem, writes Van Boeckel. "It makes no sense to stop antibiotic resistance on one side of the earth with considerable effort, while growing massively on the other."
Abuse and overuse of antimicrobials and resulting resistance are an urgent global problem that must be addressed internationally, Catrin Moore writes in a study commentary, also published in the journal Science.
Swiss researchers publish their data on a freely available internet platform. Experts can enter new information there. The researchers hope to gain a better idea of the extent of the problem.
But the problem is with data from the Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection and Food Safety from last year: in Germany, the amount of funds of particular importance for human therapy has recently increased. Book antibiotics, called fluoroquinolones. They are often the only hope for people who have become infected with antibiotic-resistant agents. The increasing use of agricultural funds in this country also increases the chances of resistance to such emergency funds. Therefore, there is a great need to discover new drugs. But it would be expensive and expensive, pharmaceutical companies say.
It is estimated that there are between 1,000 and 4,000 deaths annually in Germany due to antibiotic-resistant pathogens.