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Use of veterinary antibiotics further reduced


The European Surveillance of Veterinary Antimicrobial Consumption reports a decline of 34,6 percent of sales of antibiotics for animal health purposes since 2011. The sales are registered in 25 EU countries.

The European Surveillance of Veterinary Antimicrobial Consumption (ESVAC) was executed for the tenth consecutive year. Besides a strong decline in the sales of antibiotics the survey also outlines continued decreases in sales of veterinary antibiotics regarded as medically important. In numbers this means 24,4 percent decline for 3rd- and 4th-generation cephalosporins, 69,8 percent for polymyxins, 4,2 percent for fluoroquinolones and 74,4 percent for other quinolones.


According to Animal Health Europe these results are a clear demonstration that Europe is on the right path to improving animal health and taking a more prevention-focused approach in livestock farming. “Farmers together with veterinary oversight are actively playing their part in reducing the need to use antibiotics in animals.”

Variations between member states are noted in the report, so continued efforts are needed to ensure all farmers everywhere have access to preventive medicines and all tools needed to better manage animal health, as well as the means to measure progress while taking local specificities into account.


“The continued decline in the need to use antibiotics for animal health purposes is a true indicator of both progress and change. Veterinarians, farmers and the animal health industry, along with the authorities, are clear in their minds of what can be achieved through continued and coordinated efforts to protect the efficacy of antibiotics and slow the development of antibiotic resistance. This effort must now be cemented across all countries through greater awareness-raising and a more focused use of the wider veterinary toolbox to ensure better animal health,” said Roxane Feller, AnimalhealthEurope Secretary General.


“We support reducing the need for antibiotics, but the impacts should be closely monitored. For example, that this does not negatively impact animal welfare on those farms who have already put in place many preventive measures and already dramatically reduced their use of antibiotics. We would strongly discourage the promotion of ‘raised without antibiotics’ policies or labels, as antibiotics should always be allowed for vets to treat bacterial infections in animals. This can be the difference between life and death.”


Earlier this year the substantial progress made in the animal sector was recognised in the 2019 European Court of Auditors report on AMR. The report also recognised that further measures outlined in the new EU Regulations for veterinary medicinal products and medicated feed, which will apply from 2022 will further support responsible use of antibiotics in animals. These measures include: the ban on the preventive use of antibiotics in groups of animals and the ban on the preventive use of antimicrobials through medicated feed.

Also read: Sustainability in European animal farming debated

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