Meeting with India leaders on antibiotic resistance in livestock

Ron Dixon (Reader in the School of Life Sciences) travelled to Bangalore (Bengaluru), India recently as a guest of the UK High Commission to attend a workshop with Indian Veterinary and Pharmaceutical professionals and discuss the current landscape for antibiotic resistance research in India.

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He was one of 5 expert delegates from the UK tasked with identifying potential areas where additional research expertise from UK or India would add value to ongoing drug research in each country.

Giving a lecture on ‘Antimicrobial resistance and intensive farming’, Ron emphasised the importance of working with India to help this issue.

‘Collaborations between UK-India research communities in countering the emergence of antibiotic resistance in livestock and issues around public health are very urgent. We visited a diagnostic field station and saw the real life challenges of using antibiotics in veterinary situations’

Antimicrobial resistance is a global and complex issue which cannot be solved by any one country acting in isolation. Drug-resistant infections already kill hundreds of thousands a year globally, and by 2050 that figure could be more than 10 million.

In some parts of the world antimicrobial use is far greater in animals than in humans.  Global consumption of antimicrobials is predicted to increase by 67% by 2030 largely as a result of intensification of livestock systems and a shift to large scale farms where antimicrobials are used routinely.

The quantity of antibiotics used is likely to be one of the main drivers of development of resistance to these antibiotics, since animal agriculture could have an increasing role in the development of antimicrobial-resistant pathogens.

The workshop ‘Veterinary infections and research’ was part of UK’s Science and Innovation support delivery of the UK’s global strategy on Antibiotic resistance and was focused on building new international partnerships.

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Antibiotic Resistance in the Environment

With more patients than ever not responding to antibiotic treatment, the World Health Organisation and the EU have made the study of antibiotic resistance in hospitals and amongst the general population one of their highest priorities for research.

Antibiotic resistance originates from their overuse in human and veterinary medicine, with antibiotics entering the sewage systems after use virtually unaltered. Active antibiotics pollute the water environment, although the extent of the pollution, unlike pesticides, is unknown.

Reader in the School of Life Sciences, Dr Ron Dixon, is developing new ways to address these concerns by detecting minute amounts of antibiotics in our natural rivers and lakes. His study focuses on how antibiotic-resistant bacteria appear to survive sewage treatment and their impact on freshwater habitats.

This important research will help us understand how antibiotic resistance develops in the environment and in animal and human populations, and what measures we can take to protect ourselves from antibiotic-resistant pathogens.