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You will all be familiar with the media stories of superbugs resistant to antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance is a growing worldwide problem in both human and animal health.

Over the past two seasons outbreaks of multi-drug resistant Salmonella on local farms have brought this issue into sharper focus.

The Australian Government has released the first National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy 2015-2019 to guide the response to the problem of antibiotic misuse and resistance. The strategy was developed in partnership with industry and government, and will guide action by governments, health professionals, veterinarians, farmers and communities to reduce the emergence of resistant bacteria.

The strategy emphasises the importance of alternatives to antimicrobial use, such as changes in husbandry, management, vaccination and infection prevention and control.

Antibiotics are recognised as necessary for animal health, welfare and for producing products safe for human consumption. When using antibiotics the overriding principle is to use as little as possible but as much as necessary to address the infection.

Antimicrobial use in animals contributes to the selection and spread of resistance. To preserve effectiveness of existing antibiotics and fight the serious public and animal health threat of antibiotic resistance, antibiotic use needs to be carefully considered. Of special concern are those antibiotics that are critical in human medicine – some of which are common place within the farming sector.

The Australian Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on AMR (ASTAG) has classified veterinary antibiotics into three tiers: first line, second line and third line use. Third line antibiotics have been earmaked for last resort use only. Over coming weeks and months, increased pressure will be applied to farmers, and veterinarians as key service providers to revisit our use of antibiotics, in particular our choice of which antibiotics are used under particular circumstances. Recently The Vet Group and other local vets have received further information on how our use of antiobitics is likely to change. We are considering this information carefully, and will publish over coming months how we can, together as partners, make more prudent use of antibiotics.

For more information please refer to the following Department of Agriculture site,