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Global Conference Tackles Livestock Drug Resistance
2012-07-06

Scotland continues to cement its reputation as a world leader in animal health at a conference to tackle the problem of drug resistance and livestock being held near Edinburgh this week. Livestock producers are under increasing political pressure to reduce antimicrobial use because of fears about an accompanying resistance in drugs use in human medicine.

photo © Jennifer MacKenzie

poll dorset sheep

The two-day event, which is being hosted by the Moredun Research Institute and the National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) will examine the use of smart strategies to deal with prevalent livestock diseases whilst mitigating against the growing problems of antimicrobial and anthelmintic resistance.

Scotland, which is a hub for world class animal science, has the resources to develop husbandry systems and disease control strategies which deliver the high levels of production efficiency needed to meet the growing challenges of food security and minimise antibiotic interventions. The conference builds on that foundation.

Day one of the conference will touch on the European experience and the targeted reductions of antimicrobial use implemented in the Netherlands. The main focus, however, will be on the developing science of better diagnostics, systems design and vaccines which can reduce interventions on farm. The role of farm veterinarians in driving proactive monitoring and health planning will also be examined.

Day two will be dedicated to parasite control and the challenges of developing drug resistance in both endo and ecto parasites. Speakers and delegates will explore the role of quarantine and how new anthelminthics, targeted therapy and emerging vaccine technology can contribute to sustainable control.

Professor Julie Fitzpatrick, Scientific Director of the Moredun Research Institute and Chief Executive of the Moredun Foundation said:

“Moredun and NFUS are pleased to co-host this important debate. Diseases of livestock remain a principal cause of poor animal welfare and inefficiency of production. The conference is not just about describing problems, it’s about finding solutions. We need to use drugs appropriately and to maintain their efficacy while avoiding risk to the human population. We also need to develop different managment approaches and new products, including vaccines and diagnostics to ensure global food security in the years to come.”

NFU Scotland President, Nigel Miller said:

“With drug resistance becoming a bigger challenge in some farm systems, and concerns over increasing antibiotic resistance in human medicine spilling over onto veterinary uses, it is crucial that the livestock industry uses science to deliver smart disease prevention strategies.

“The EU policy machine is considering sheltering some key antibiotics from veterinary use to protect their efficacy in human medicine, yet work at Glasgow Vet School demonstrates no link between on-farm use and the development of resistance in human pathogens; however, the reality is that this issue is now driven by politics.

“In order to avoid the imposition of knee-jerk legislation, scientists, vets, farmers and the food industry must be prepared to take the lead, not only to demonstrate responsible use of antibiotics on farm but use science and system development to reduce veterinary interventions.

“Scotland is a world leader in developing farm veterinary health planning, and there is an opportunity now for vets and farmers to take this to the next level and be proactive in implementing management systems, vaccine programmes and monitoring to squeeze disease episodes out of production cycles.”

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