Awareness of farmers, legislation for clean sanitary practices in animal farms and its strict implementation can do the trick
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India is being designated as the ‘epicentre’ of the global drug resistance crisis. This is due to a combination of factors that is being described as a ‘perfect storm’ and has led to the spread of superbugs. These factors need to be addressed urgently.
One of them is the misuse of antibiotics in India’s livestock sector. The use of antibiotics in animal husbandry has increased significantly in recent times.
One major concern is that the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in animal feed has led to their continuous exposure to gut microbiota. This, in turn, has led to the development of resistance even in commensal pathogens that can then be transferred to other pathogenic bacteria.
In animal husbandry, poultry is the most rapidly growing sector. A study conducted to estimate the demand for egg and poultry meat predicted significant growth of both egg and poultry meat in rural as well as urban communities in the coming two decades.
It is a good source of income. Income from rearing poultry is set to triple by 2020. To fulfil the demand for eggs and meat from poultry, farmers are being forced to use antibiotics as growth promoters.
This is because a majority of deadly diseases affecting poultry are either of viral or bacterial origin. These include viral diseases like Marek disease, infectious bronchitis, gumboro disease, infectious laryngotracheitis, litchi diseases and pox. They also include bacterial diseases like salmonellosis, collibacillosis, campylobacteriosis, Mycoplasmosis, etc.
Good quality vaccines are available against almost all viral diseases. The vice versa is true about bacterial diseases. Good quality, cost-effective and safe vaccines are required for the prevention of such diseases.
This leads to the use of antibiotics to prevent these bacterial infections to avoid any mortality or morbidity.
So how do we address the misuse of antibiotics in tackling bacterial disease among livestock in India. Here are some approaches:
Amit Kumar is Associate Professor at the College of Biotechnology, SVPUAT, Meerut. Views expressed are the author’s own and don’t necessarily reflect those of Down To Earth
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