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Advanced Diagnostics Allow More Precise Use of Antibiotics

10 October 2013

CANADA - A Saskatchewan based veterinary consultant says advances in diagnostic techniques have allowed veterinarians to be much more precise with their use of antibiotics in farm animals, according to Bruce Cochrane.

The topic "Antibiotic Stewardship, Balancing Public Perceptions, Regulations and Risk in Antibiotic Use Decisions" will be discussed as part of Saskatchewan Pork Industry Symposium 2013 November 19 and 20 in Saskatoon.

Dr Leigh Rosengren, with Rosengren Epidemiology Consulting, observes, as diagnostics have become more specific veterinarians are better able to target the drugs, doses and durations so antibiotic use is much more precise than in the past and producers now think first about things like biosecurity, sanitation and vaccination when they're managing health and they reserve antibiotic use for when it's most necessary.

Dr Leigh Rosengren-Rosengren Epidemiology Consulting

The public is certainly extremely interested in the topic of antibiotic resistance.

They've been interested since the 1960s but the concern is growing and I think a lot of that interest is paralleling our general interest in food and food production but it's challenging because only two per cent of Canadians live on farms and so most people are very removed from how animals are raised.

Many people have never had an opportunity to spend time with food animals and so they don't relate to the fact that sick animals need medicine or antibiotics just like sick children do.

In my opinion the other reason that the public is so concerned is because they're not hearing the good news stories and they don't know that the livestock industry is taking this issue very seriously.

Media rarely reports on the fact that all of our major commodities have on farm food safety programmes, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association has prudent use guidelines for veterinarians to follow and consumers aren't told that very few antibiotics are ever used for things like growth promotion but are being used in very strategic ways to control disease.

Dr Rosengren stresses veterinarians think very carefully when making the choice to use antibiotics and they do so to make sure we have healthy animals which make healthy food.

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