Rivers running next to twelve pig and poultry farms, five of which were in Norfolk, were examined by researchers for World Animal Protection, the Alliance to Save our Antibiotics, and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
They discovered Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli bacteria present in river samples, commenting that a number of them had resistance genes to antibiotics present in human medication.
“Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli bacteria was present in river samples, some having resistance genes to antibiotics present in human medication “
For human health and agriculture, the misuse of antibiotics decreases their efficiency and contributes to the emergence of "superbugs," or bacterial variations that are resistant to existing treatment options.
According to the most recent data from the UK Health Security Agency, there were 148 severe infections that did not react to medications on average per day in 2021, an increase of 2.2% from 2020.
The latest research on animal antibiotics discovered that at least one extra form of resistance was prevalent downstream compared to upstream in the rivers adjacent to 5/8 farms evaluated.
"This suggests resistance is entering the environment from these farms."
The 2022 UK-VARSS data report, released at the start of November, revealed that sales of antibiotics for farm animals had decreased by 55% since 2014.
A campaign manager for World Animal Protection, Lindsay Duncan, explained that "if the welfare of farm animals was improved, there would be no need for this dangerous and unnecessary use of antibiotics that is such a threat to human health."
A representative for Defra said that they "do not support routine preventative use of antibiotics in animals - they should not compensate for poor husbandry practices and we will continue to look into strengthening legislation in this area."
“Antibiotic stewardship is now part of everyday language, with farmers and vets working collaboratively to embed best practice for responsible use across all sectors."
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