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White paper: Antimicrobial resistance in the animal sector in India








Last updated date 12/06/2024, see Corrigendum 


FAO. 2024. White paper: Antimicrobial resistance in the animal sector in India. New Delhi.



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    Antimicrobials (AM) play a critical role in the treatment of human and animal (aquatic and terrestrial) diseases, which has led to their widespread application and use. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the ability of microorganisms (e.g. bacteria, viruses and some parasites) to stop an antibiotic, such as an antimicrobial, antiviral or antimalarial, from working against them. Globally, about 700 000 deaths per year arise from resistant infections as a result of the fact that antimicrobial drugs have become less effective at killing resistant pathogens. Antimicrobial chemicals that are present in environmental compartments can trigger the development of AMR. These chemicals can also cause antibiotic-resistant bacteria (ARB) to further spread antibiotic resistance genes (ARG) because they may have an evolutionary advantage over non-resistant bacteria. This paper will provide alternative screening methods useful for environmental samples and surveillance approaches in planning such screening efforts. Based on case studies, this paper aims to summarize the current understanding of the occurrence of ARG in the environment, and the antimicrobial movement from agricultural areas to the environment.
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    Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is now recognized as a major global public health problem which has been aggravated by the irrational use of antimicrobial agents in human and animal health as well as the presence of these agents in the environment. AMR in animal pathogens makes disease treatments ineffective, increases the severity of the disease, reduces productivity and leads to economic losses. In addition, more than half the quantity of antimicrobials used in animals/fish is excreted as waste contaminating soil, water and the environment. This also contributes to the emergence and spread of AMR through selection pressure on microorganisms in the environment. Besides, antimicrobial usage (AMU) can lead to presence of antimicrobial residues in edible animal/fish products which could become a public health risk. Understanding the dynamics of AMR and its surveillance can only be done through quality laboratory services.Laboratory-based surveillance is an integral part of Objective 2 of the National Action Plan of India (2017–2021), which was developed in alignment with the Global Action Plan for AMR.The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), with technical assistance from FAO, has established a network of its institutions, the Indian Network for Fishery and Animal Antimicrobial Resistance (INFAAR), to generate nationally representative surveillance data on AMR.
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    Responsible use of antibiotics in aquaculture 2005
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    Antibiotics are drugs of natural or synthetic origin that have the capacity to kill or to inhibit the growth of micro-organisms. Antibiotics that are sufficiently non-toxic to the host are used as chemotherapeutic agents in the treatment of infectious diseases of humans, animals and plants. They have long been present in the environment and have played a crucial role in the battle between man and microbe. Many bacterial species multiply rapidly enough to double their numbers every 20 -30 minutes, so their ability to adapt to changes in the environment and survive unfavourable conditions often results in the development of mutations that enable the species to survive changing external conditions. Another factor contributing to their adaptability is that individual cells do not rely on their own genetic resources. Many, if not all, have access to a large pool of itinerant genes that move from one bacteria cell to another and spread through bacterial populations thr ough a variety of mobile genetic elements, of which plasmids and transposable elements are two examples. The capacity of bacteria to adapt to changes in their environment and thus survive is called resistance. Drug choices for the treatment of common infectious diseases are becoming increasingly limited and expensive and, in some cases, unavailable due to the emergence of drug resistance in bacteria and fungi – resistance that is threatening to reverse much medical progress of the pa st 50 years. Dissemination of resistant micro-organisms may occur in both hospitals and communities. It is recognized that a major route of transmission of resistant microorganisms from animals to humans is through the food chain. In aquaculture, antibiotics have been used mainly for therapeutic purposes and as prophylactic agents. The contribution to antimicrobial resistance of antibiotics used in aquaculture is reviewed here, using a risk analysis framework. Some recommendations on responsible conduct in this context are proposed, aimed at diminishing the threat of build up of antimicrobial resistance.

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