The unappealing spectre of MRSA and the knock on effects to our industry has raised its head again in past weeks. Bacteria, from both humans and pigs, have been identified which carry a gene which makes it resistant to the antibiotic Colisitin. Colisitin is a licensed antimicrobial used in piglets/weaners as an oral treatment for E.coli diarrhoea. There are few licensed alternatives.
The industry has come under increasing pressure to impose a “voluntary” ban on the use of Colistin in pigs. It has already been classified as a Class 3 treatment (along with cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones) by the Pig Veterinary Society, meaning it should not be used as a first line treatment. Although the industry has not supported a voluntary ban, this is a situation that I fear will be repeated in the future. In arguments between science and politics, science usually loses.
If we are to continue to have a suitable range of antibiotics available for use in the pig sector, we will have to demonstrate that we are being responsible. Guidelines have recently been published by the Pig Health and Welfare Council which detail how we could (or should) be ensuring the appropriate medicine is being used. Supporting diagnostic bacteriology and antimicrobial sensitivity testing are going to become more important in safeguarding the use of medicines – especially those in Class 3.
What does this mean on farm? It could mean we take more samples, more swabs and perform more lab tests. One thing we have found, through the yearly antimicrobial collation reports, is that there is always something to discuss once the results are in, so this is not necessarily a negative thing – the results might surprise us, or indicate a reduced requirement for antibiotics to be used (and also saving to be made).
Courtesy of The George Vet Group