Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in Agriculture
Antimicrobial drugs, including antibiotics, are widely used in agriculture across all livestock sectors to treat and prevent infections in animals. In Canada based on 2014 data, approximately 82% of antimicrobials that are important to human medicine were distributed and/or sold for use in food producing animals.
What is antimicrobial resistance?
It is the ability of microorganisms, commonly bacteria, to develop resistance to treatment with drugs, which previously worked effectively against them. Bacteria are also very good at passing on this resistance information to other microbes, thereby spreading resistance more rapidly
Any antibiotic use can lead to the development of resistance, but inappropriate use speeds up the development and spread. Resistant bacteria can spread between animals and humans through contaminated food or by direct or indirect contact.
All of us have an important role to play in the prevention of further development of AMR. Prudent antibiotic use in agriculture is a key component to address this serious global issue.
What actions is the Department of Agriculture & Fisheries (DAF) taking?
Pan-Canadian Framework: Prince Edward Island (PEI) contributed from both Agriculture and Health in the development of the Pan-Canadian Framework for Antimicrobial Resistance. Our participation continues in the development of the subsequent Action Plan.
Health Canada: PEI through both DAF and the PEI Veterinary Medical Association
(PEIVMA) have been active contributors and collaborators with Health Canada throughout the policy and regulatory changes.
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has been working with Department of Health & Wellness and Health PEI to share information and develop common goals for action around AMR.
The DAF has been working closely with the PEIVMA to ensure our agriculture industry will be aware of the many changes in regards to access to antimicrobials across the country.
The DAF continues to support assurance programs and livestock enhancement projects through Growing Forward 1 and 2 initiatives in partnership with the federal government. It is expected that the new Canadian Agricultural Partnership will also support AMR initiatives once the new funding model is in place April 1, 2018.
When should producers use antimicrobials?
Antimicrobials, specifically antibiotics, are fundamental in livestock production to prevent and treat infections caused by bacteria. It is critically important to have an accurate disease diagnosis to prevent using antibiotics against infections caused by viruses and fungi in which they would be ineffective.
Your veterinarian can work with you to ensure you use the right drug for the right bug in the right dosage. The route of administration and length of treatment are also extremely important. Accurate treatment records should always be kept.
Other practices can help you avoid the need to use antibiotics such as:
- Biosecurity and infection control
- Good quality nutrition
- Appropriate housing
For more information, contact:
Dr. Carolyn Sanford
PEI Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
5th Floor Jones Building