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Jennifer Huberts
Let’s talk about antibiotics and antimicrobial resistance
Keeping animals healthy is a top priority for farmers and veterinarians.
A serious health problem can cause animals to suffer, and in some cases,
can even wipe out all of the livestock or poultry on a farm – or even in a whole industry. Farmers use many strategies and tools to keep animals healthy – including a good environment, nutrition, antibiotics and vaccines.
Antimicrobials are medications that
 ght bacterial infections in humans and animals, and antibiotics are just one type of antimicrobial. Resistance – the state in which an antimicrobial no longer effectively  ghts a particular disease- causing organism – makes it harder to  ght bacterial infections.
According to Health Canada, potential sources of antimicrobial resistance include:56
• Using and misusing/overusing antibiotics in human and animal medicine;
• Misusing antibacterial
cleaning products like household disinfectants, antiseptics, or personal hygiene products with antibacterial properties;
• Environmental contamination through waste water and other ef uents caused by the use of antimicrobials in human and animal settings.57
Antimicrobials are grouped into four categories based on their corresponding uses in human medicine, from Category
I drugs of “very high importance” to
“low importance” (Category IV) drugs.58 These categories account for whether an antimicrobial is considered a preferred option in treating human sickness, as well as how many alternate antimicrobials are available.
At present, most antimicrobials can
only be used on-farm with a veterinary prescription, similar to a prescription your own physician might provide. Health Canada’s Veterinary Drug Directorate is also implementing new regulations, and strengthening existing rules and policies, for antibiotic use for farm animals.
As of December 1, 2018, antibiotics
in categories I, II and III may only be used with a veterinary prescription,
while Category IV drugs can continue
to be used over the counter, as they
are not considered important to human health. Any antimicrobial product label claiming to promote more ef cient animal production will also come to an end.
Antibiotics are not the only tool used
to keep animals healthy. As in human medicine, vaccinations also make a big difference, as do probiotics and other immune system boosters. Research into both disease treatment and prevention alternatives is always ongoing.
32 The Real Dirt on Farming
Research
Pro le
Dr. Bonnie Mallard
University of Guelph professor Dr. Bonnie Mallard has developed
and patented a testing method – called High Immune Response technology – to identify animals with natural immunity and better disease resistance. The goal of Dr. Mallard’s research is to select naturally healthier animals to further reduce antibiotic use in livestock production. Dr. Mallard’s technology is already being used in dairy cattle research, and is now being developed for beef cattle and pigs.59
Dr. Bonnie Mallard


































































































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