WHO touts growth of global antibiotic surveillance system
The World Health Organization (WHO) said today that a record number of countries are now monitoring and reporting data on antibiotic resistance but warned that the data reveal worrisome trends.
The WHO said its Global Antimicrobial Resistance and Use Surveillance System (GLASS), launched in 2015, now aggregates data from more than 64,000 surveillance sites in 66 countries. In 2018, the number of surveillance sites was 729 from 22 countries. In addition, more countries are reporting on the recently approved indicator on antimicrobial resistance as part of Sustainable Development monitoring.
GLASS data show that resistance to ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic commonly used to treat urinary tract infections, varied from 8.4% to 92.9% in 33 reporting countries.
"As we gather more evidence, we see more clearly and more worryingly how fast we are losing critically important antimicrobial medicines all over the world," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, director-general of the WHO, said in a press release. "These data underscore the importance both of protecting the antimicrobials we have and developing new ones, to effectively treat infections, preserve health gains made in the last century and ensure a secure future."
The WHO also expressed concern that antibiotic use in COVID-19 patients could exacerbate resistance trends. But the organization is hopeful that its recent guidance, which recommends against providing antibiotics to patients with mild COVID-19 or those with suspected or confirmed moderate COVID-19 unless there is clinical indication to do so, will help limit unnecessary use.
Jun 1 WHO press release
Data show antibiotic use in UK pigs leveling off after years of decline
New data from the United Kingdom's Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) show that total antibiotic use by UK pig farmers in 2019 was the same as it was in 2018.
The data, obtained from the electronic medicine book (eMB) and representing 95% of pigs slaughtered in the United Kingdom, show that 110 milligrams (mg) of antibiotics per population correction unit (PCU) were used in pigs in 2018 and 2019. From 2015 through 2018, antibiotic use in pigs fell from 278 mg/PCU to 110 mg/PCU, a drop of 60%.
But the use of highest-priority critically important antibiotics—those considered critical for treating bacterial infections in people—continued to fall, declining from 0.06 mg/PCU to 0.04 mg/PCU, and use of the last-resort antibiotic colistin fell from 0.004 mg/PCU to 0.002 mg/PCU.
AHDB officials say the levelling off is likely the result of a spike in swine dysentery cases in 2019. Swine dysentery is a bacterial disease frequently treated with antibiotics.
"It is disappointing that this may have prevented further reduction in our antibiotic use last year," AHDB Acting Head of Animal Health & Welfare, Mandy Nevel, PhD, said in a press release. "However, it is right that we put animal health and welfare first and, having discussed the results with the Pig Veterinary Society (PVS) and the wider industry, we can confirm that the consensus is the industry took the responsible approach and treated animals where necessary."
Jun 1 AHDB press release