Exploring the barriers and incentives towards effective surveillance for antimicrobial and anthelmintic usage (AMHU) in beef cattle and sheep in Great Britain.

Jean-Christophe Arnold, Louise Whatford, Isobel Gabain, Mehroosh Tak, Steven van Winden, David Barling, Barbara Häsler

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Antimicrobial and anthelmintic usage (AMHU) in livestock production has increased over the last 50+ years. Microbial and helminthic exposure to such drugs is understood to have contributed to increased resistance to treatment, causing significant economic impact in the human and animal health sectors. Surveillance of AMHU is an important part of a mitigation-policy cycle for antimicrobial and anthelmintic resistance (AMHR). It is used to guide decisions on treatment, identify populations at risk, understand the epidemiology of AMHR and inform the development and evaluation of strategies and interventions. In this study, we aimed to explore potential barriers and incentives towards enhancing AMHU surveillance in beef cattle and sheep sub-sectors using a PESTLE - Political, Economic, Sociological, Technological, Legal and Environmental factors – analysis.
The United Kingdom (UK) currently collects antimicrobial usage (AMU) data for the purpose of national surveillance, with sales data from the pharmaceutical industry and sub-sector-specific usage data. Increased efforts have been made towards capturing AMU data to understand which are high users and to observe usage trends. Sub-sector-specific AMU surveillance coverage is the largest in poultry, pig, aquaculture, and gamebird sub-sectors who are currently achieving 90% and above (RUMA 2020; VMD 2020).
However, AMU surveillance coverage remains low in the GB beef sub-sector (9.6% of GB slaughtered beef (VMD 2020)) and appears largely absent in the sheep sub-sector. Furthermore, no anthelmintic usage (AHU) data is captured for national surveillance despite the high economic burden of parasitism on grazing livestock, strong efforts by industry-led organisations towards promoting responsible AHU, and evidence of mounting levels of anthelmintic resistance (AHR) (Hennessey et al. 2020). Increased AMU data capture in the beef sub-sector is required to increase representativeness, determine usage level, and observe trends. In sheep, enhanced data capture will help to understand the sub-sector’s contribution to total AMU in livestock, and to set targets for reducing AMU. Surveillance of AHU seems particularly relevant in sheep and beef cattle systems, as they are often raised in extensive, grass-based systems and are at higher risk of helminth infection.
Workshops and one-to-one interviews were conducted with 26 stakeholders directly and indirectly implicated in AMU and potential AHU surveillance in the beef cattle and sheep sub-sectors. Workshops and interviews were held in February and March 2021 to discuss these issues from the perspective of stakeholders’ roles in the system. In the workshops, barriers, and incentives for enhancing AMU and implementing AHU surveillance in beef and sheep were discussed considering political, economic, socio-cultural, technological, legal, and environmental factors. Additionally, interviews on the same topics were conducted with stakeholders who were unable to attend workshops. Summary notes from workshops and interviews were analysed thematically in an iterative process among the study authors and emerging themes were identified. These were supplemented by knowledge from the literature and used to define recommendations
Original languageEnglish
PublisherRoyal Veterinary College
Number of pages39
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2021


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