The world as we know it is ever changing and is too antibiotic resistance. With medical advancement in antibiotics has also considered with bugs resistance to such antibiotics. As farmers we have responsibility for human health as what we give our animals in the form of feed and medication inevitably ends up in the human food chain. Farmers are in the area of human health and have as much responsibility for human health as doctors and nurses.
Irish Pig farmers should have reason to worry with research recently published by the University of Ohio which has discovered the dangerous bacteria carbapenem-resistant enterobactericeae (CRE) on a U.S. pig farm for the first time. The germs have a high antibiotic-resistance, which includes resistance to carbapenems, a group of antibiotics of last resort. CRE are considered an “urgent” public health threat by the U.S. Centre’s for Disease Control and Prevention and can cause life-threatening diseases that kill about half the patients who contract them.
Irish pig farmers although not affected yet should watch this area closely. Firstly there is the risk of transmission to humans through fresh meat, although that hasn’t occurred yet is quite possible according to researchers. Furthermore if it was to spread through pig population it could be exponential as there is no known cure for the mutant super bug.
There has only been one case recorded yet in America in a small 1500 sow unit. The source of the CRE has baffled researchers as the unit is a closed herd and they suspect that it was brought in by either equipment or human transmission.
CRE isn’t a new phenomenon with cases already reported in countries such as France and Germany.
It is a bug more commonly associated with hospitals and healthcare centres which makes it all the more worrying that it has found its way into the pig population.
What makes CRE all the more interesting is that it seems to thrive where the use of certiofur, an antibiotic that is related to carbapenum. Certiofur is administered after birth for disease prevention and there seems to be increased levels of CRE where this product was used.
In terms of consumer perception and confidence CRE is a serious issue. Although it’s not possible to eradicate the use of the antibiotics in the industry,
“stopping their use for growth promotion and limiting unnecessary use as a preventive measure would reduce the spread of superbugs.”
Carbapenum isn’t licensed for use in Ireland so we are at less risk of contracting the superbug. Shane McAuliffe of the IFA pigs committee said that the chances of CRE making their way to Ireland are “very unlikely”. He also noted that antibiotic resistance is a major “challenge for the pig industry”. However the pig industry if taking a “proactive approach” to the problem by reducing the use of antibiotics. According to Shane it is a “joint effort” between the department and primarily Teagasc that are looking at strict and stringent biosecurity measures.