Improving Antimicrobial Stewardship in Food Animals by Identifying the Determinants of use of Antimicrobials by Veterinarians and Dairy Farmers

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the resistance of human bacterial pathogens to the drugs prescribed to treat disease. AMR is an emerging global health problem and it is crucial to understand the relationship between the use of drugs in food animals and the consequent transfer of resistance to human pathogens. There is a lack of data on the factors that result in some veterinarians and farmers that may be disproportionately using high levels of antimicrobials. It is also unclear if reducing the total mass used will be effective at reducing the use of critically-important drugs, or manners of use of drugs that are most important for actually reducing the risk of AMR.

Dr. Valeria Parreira, Research Manager at the Canadian Research Institute in Food Safety, analyzes DNA sequences alignment

What challenge does this project address?

The objective of this project is to quantify the factors that determine the amount of antimicrobials used and the selection of critically important antibiotics by veterinarians and dairy farmers, in order to inform the development of effective antimicrobial stewardship programs.

How will this research address the challenge?

Researchers will measure and correlate veterinary prescription and sales data with farmers’ records and actual use, including the types of drugs and reasons for use. Results will help develop protocols and knowledge transfer materials to implement best management practices to reduce the use of critically-important antimicrobials.

What impact will the project have on agriculture?

This project will deliver an improved understanding of the key determinants and influence areas for targeted reduction of AMU across food animal production systems. Additionally, results will inform more successfully-applied policy approaches and regulatory initiatives for antimicrobial stewardship.

Research Highlights

This research started data collection from 30 participating dairy farms in the fall of 2019 and is collaborating with a related national project to contribute this data to expand the scope of the investigation.

The first round of focus groups with farmers took place in March 2020. A national questionnaire of dairy farmers and veterinarians was done in the summer of 2020, followed by additional focus groups with veterinarians and farmers in the fall of 2020.

An intervention at the farm level will be built based on data collected this year, and tested in a controlled study in 2021.

Other Infmoration

Partners and collaborators: University of Prince Edward Island, University of Montreal