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Guidelines of FAO for the responsible use of antibiotics in swine

Since their appearance, antibiotics have been a revolutionary discovery for the treatment and cure of infections in animals and humans, some of which cause great mortality. Its use made possible to significantly and notably reduce the morbidity of some of these pathologies.

However, these bring associated challenges such as the appearance of mild to severe adverse reactions, and the resistance and multi-resistance of bacteria to antibiotics, which can be transferred to humans.

The main objective in pig farms is to have good productive parameters such as a high percentage of born alive, higher productive performances in terms of daily weight gains and feed efficiency at a lower cost. Another objective is to reduce the incidence and persistence of infections. In farms, the use of antibiotics has mainly two functions: the first is to use them for therapeutic purposes, with medicated compound animal feed being the most common way to deliver the drug; the second is to be used as animal growth promoters.

We need antibiotics to fulfill their function, for this, it is essential to eliminate their use as growth promoters, restricting them only to cases where they are really necessary.

AMR (Antimicrobial Resistance) is an ever-growing imminent reality for human and animal health across the globe.

It is here where the concept of One Health gains relevance and is applied to both the human health sector and the animal production sector and the ecosystem in general. We must keep in mind that there may be a spread of resistant bacteria from production animals to humans.

In the European Union and in China, the use of antibiotics as animal growth promoters and as disease preventives is banned. Despite this, productivity has not decreased, corrective actions for management, biosecurity and good practices are measures to ensure that productions contribute to reducing the amount of antibiotics used in the world and thus reduce the appearance and development of resistance to antibiotics and help antibiotics not to lose their effectiveness.

The recent FAO publication, "How to use antibiotics effectively and responsibly in pig production for the sake of human and animal health", addresses the need to reduce the use of antibiotics, how to use them responsibly and efficiently, without affecting productivity.

The points highlighted by FAO in the publication on how to reduce the use of antibiotics are:

  • Good animal husbandry
  • Common good animal husbandry
  • Good piglet care
  • Biosafety
  • Vaccinations

And the recommendations about how and when to use antibiotics are:

  • Only use antibiotics when based on a diagnosis of disease by a veterinarian
  • Treat animals individually with antibiotics

By: Catalina Bedoya - Technical Commercial Analyst

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