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Monitoring and surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in bacterial pathogens from aquaculture

Regional Guidelines for the Monitoring and Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance, Use and Residues in Food and Agriculture – Volume 3









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Last updated 29/02/2024, see Corrigendum


FAO, NParks and SFA, 2023. Monitoring and surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in bacterial pathogens from aquaculture – Regional Guidelines for the Monitoring and Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance, Use and Residues in Food and Agriculture. Volume 3. Bangkok.



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    This Regional Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Monitoring and Surveillance Guidelines Volume 1 provides guidance in the development of AMR surveillance plan for food-borne bacteria, underscoring the key elements for harmonized AMR data generation, data collation and reporting of findings, while taking into consideration the standing context of the region. It aims to provide guidelines on the harmonized scheme for antimicrobial susceptibility testing and laboratory-based monitoring for AMR.
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    The performance of antimicrobial susceptibility testing programmes relevant to aquaculture and aquacultural products 2019
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    This Circular addresses best practice guidelines for the performance of these susceptibility tests. Section 1 discusses the relevance of this document to The FAO Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance 2016-2020. Section 2 provides a general background to the principles of antimicrobial susceptibility testing. Section 3 discusses the current status of the standard protocols that can be recommended for use in antimicrobial susceptibility testing of bacteria isolated from aquatic animals. Following a consideration of 44 species of bacteria that represent those most frequently isolated from aquatic animals, it demonstrates that the currently available standardized protocols are adequate for the determination of the antimicrobial susceptibility of 37 of them (84 percent). Section 4 discusses the importance of the design of programmes aimed at monitoring or surveillance of antimicrobial resistance associated with the use of antimicrobial agents in the rearing of aquatic animals. In this paper four designs are outlined, each of which will provide data for programmes aimed at answering different questions. Section 5 provides some conclusions, while Section 6 gives a list of references. The Circular is supported by four annexes that provide: (i) a listing of Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) documents cited in the paper; (ii) a list of the antimicrobial agents most commonly used in aquaculture; (iii) notes on the selection of test protocols for selected Gram-positive cocci; and (iv) guidance on the possible use of epidemiological cut-off values in a clinical context.
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    Improving biosecurity through prudent and responsible use of veterinary medicines in aquatic food production 2012
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    The current trend towards increasing intensification and diversification of global aquaculture has lead to its dramatic growth, thus making aquaculture an important food-producing sector that provides an essential source of aquatic protein for a growing human population. For both developed and developing countries, the sector is recognized as creator of jobs and an important source of foreign export earnings. The expansion of commercial aquaculture, as is the case in commercial livestock and pou ltry production, has necessitated the routine use of veterinary medicines to prevent and treat disease outbreaks due to pathogens, assure healthy stocks and maximize production. The expanded and occasionally irresponsible global movements of live aquatic animals have been accompanied by the transboundary spread of a wide variety of pathogens that have sometimes caused serious damage to aquatic food productivity and resulted in serious pathogens becoming endemic in culture systems and the natura l aquatic environment. The use of appropriate antimicrobial treatments is one of the most effective management responses to emergencies associated with infectious disease epizootics. However, their inappropriate use can lead to problems related to increased frequency of bacterial resistance and the potential transfer of resistance genes in bacteria from the aquatic environment to other bacteria. Injudicious use of antimicrobials has also resulted in the occurrence of their residues in aquacultur e products, and as a consequence, bans by importing countries and associated economic impacts, including market loss have occurred. Since disease emergencies can happen even in well-managed aquaculture operations, careful planning on the use antimicrobials is essential in order to maximize their efficacy and minimize the selection pressure for increased frequencies of resistant variants. The prudent and responsible use of veterinary medicines is an essential component of successful commercial aq uaculture production systems. The FAO/AAHRI Expert Workshop on Improving Biosecurity through Prudent and Responsible Use of Veterinary Medicines in Aquatic Food Production was convened in Bangkok, Thailand from 15 to 18 December 2009, in order to understand the current status of the use of antimicrobials in aquaculture and to discuss the concerns and impacts of their irresponsible use on human health, the aquatic environment and trade. Such discussions became the basis for drafting recommenda tions targeted to the state and private sectors and for developing guiding principles on the responsible use of antimicrobials in aquaculture that will be part of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries Technical Guidelines on Prudent and Responsible Use of Veterinary Medicines in Aquaculture. Since aquaculture is expected to continue to increase its contribution to the world¿s production of aquatic food, offer opportunities to alleviate poverty, increase employment and community de velopment and reduce overexploitation of natural aquatic resources, appropriate guidance to aquaculture stakeholders on the responsible use of veterinary medicines has become essential. Safe and effective veterinary medicines need to be available for efficient aquaculture production, and their use should be in line with established principles on prudent use to safeguard public and animal health. The use of such medicines should be part of national and on-farm biosecurity plans and in accordance with an overall national policy for sustainable aquaculture. This publication is presented in two parts: Part 1 contains 15 technical background papers presented during the expert workshop, contributed by 28 specialists and which served as a basis for the expert workshop deliberations; Part 2 contains the highlights of the expert workshop.

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