Disease prevention is the alternative to animal antibiotics

Drug resistance is often viewed as a climate crisis and is ignored to address the risk by developing new and safe alternatives to animal antibiotics. In reality, unlike fossil fuels, antibiotics are not available in humans or animals for the therapy of bacterial diseases.

Veterinarians are unable to use anything but antibiotic products to treat sick animals without compromise on animal health and welfare and to minimize the risks to other animals.

Therefore, disease prevention is the only alternative. Bacterial infections can only be minimized, and the need for antibiotics can only be decreased by using the full spectrum of veterinary instruments and techniques.

Europe was one of the first major markets to realize this, which has led to the development of animal disease control strategies. In The Netherlands, for instance, a national antibiotic use monitoring and responsible use initiative led livestock farmers to take actions to improve overall animal health and disease susceptibility.

As a result, between 2009 and 2017 the sale of antibiotics fell by more than 60 percent with a low impact on trade and livelihoods, showing that there were no enforced controls and losses to improve the responsible use of antibiotics.

A one-size-fits-all strategy for controlling diseases that pass through animals and humans, which doubled the need for antibiotics treatment, was especially effective.

Since 2006, farmers have indeed found other ways of ensuring their livestock’s healthy growth and development, including infection prevention, farm biosecurity, and enhanced nutrition. As a result, antibiotics are being increasingly preserved in Europe, at least, for their important role in the treatment of bacterial disease.

For other countries in the world where antibiotics are still being misused, due to knowledge or limited use, the successes of countries like the UK, the Netherlands, France, and many others should be used as a perfect example.

Improvements in the prevention and treatment of animal diseases, as well as the surveillance and monitoring of antibiotic use, have been central to these successes.

The need for antibiotics can be reduced by improved animal welfare from the threat of disease through vaccination and by identifying and dealing with medical issues beforehand.