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RUMA's Rules on Animal Antibiotic Use

17 April 2009

UK - Veterinarians need the full range of antibiotics to help protect the health and welfare of Britain’s farm animals, and to help ensure the safety of food derived from those animals.

RUMA welcomes the call by the Chief Medical Officer for the responsible use of antibiotics in both humans and animals – something the Alliance has being promoting through vets and their farmer clients since its establishment over 10 years ago. However, according to the National Beef Association, RUMA feels suggestions that certain groups of antibiotics – cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones – should be taken away from veterinary use is short sighted. It would be counterproductive and detrimental to animal – and ultimately human – health and welfare.

RUMA director Tony Andrews said: “The 2007 veterinary antibiotic usage figures, published by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate in July 2008, show that RUMA’s work to reduce the need to use antibiotics seems to be having an effect. RUMA actively encourages and supports the responsible use of antibiotics in animals.

The Alliance has drafted species-specific guidelines on best practice for the use of antibiotics. The detailed guidelines for use by vets in conjunction with farmers are based on the philosophy that antimicrobials are chosen and used based on diagnosis and known sensitivities of the micro-organisms involved. The usage of cephalosporins and quinolones is very small compared with that of the more traditional antibiotics such as penicillin and tetracyclines – but they have their role to play when they are shown to be the right choice by investigation into a specific disease situation.

“The RUMA guidelines, both the series on antimicrobials and the more recently issued advice on vaccines and vaccination, emphasise measures to prevent the need for treatments of any kind. These measures could relate to housing or nutrition, for example, as well as medicines,” he added.

Further Reading

- You can view the guidelines by clicking here.

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