Antibiotic use, resistance solutions need unified approach

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Antibiotic use and antimicrobial resistance are the responsibility of the human health, animal health and environmental health communities — and solutions will require collaboration of these health communities. This was the message emerging from the “A One Health Approach to Antimicrobial Use & Resistance: A Dialogue for a Common Purpose” symposium, held recently in Columbus, Ohio.

Coordinated by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture, presenters and participants agreed on numerous points by the end of the symposium:
* Antibiotics dramatically improve human, animal and plant health, and increase life expectancy.
* Antimicrobial resistance is here to stay. Antimicrobial resistance is not a new phenomenon; it existed before mankind.
* The antimicrobial resistance topic can be subtle, complex, difficult and polarizing. It is about science, evidence, politics, behavior, economics and conflicting opinions.
* Antimicrobial resistance is a consequence of use and misuse – and each community – animal health, human health or environmental health – is responsible for antibiotic stewardship.
* The time has come to work together regarding antimicrobial resistance.

“Finding a solution is not about compromise; it’s about reaching agreement,” said Dr. Lonnie King, Dean of The Ohio State Univ. College of Veterinary Medicine. “We [animal health, human health and environmental health communities] need to focus on interests and not positions and initiate options for mutual gain. We need to find common ground – something we all can agree to when we disagree on other issues.”

Topics addressed by the 13 animal health, human health and environmental health experts during the symposium covered an overview of antibiotic use; history of antimicrobial resistance; antimicrobial resistance surveillance; environmental contamination with antimicrobial residues; interplay of animal and human antimicrobial resistant populations; nationally funded antimicrobial resistance research projects; and alternatives to antibiotics in agriculture.

The National Institute for Animal Agriculture said it provides a forum for building consensus and advancing proactive solutions for animal agriculture – and provides continuing education and communication linkages for animal agriculture professionals.

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