Antibiotics misuse a 'time bomb' for agriculture sector
Resistance to antibiotics is a "ticking time bomb" for the agricultural sector as vets encounter more and more cases of animals that cannot be cured by conventional drugs.
Tipperary vet Eamon O Connell said that he had come across a case of a cow with mastitis that was resistant to all antibiotics.
"A farmer milking 300 cows now has a mixed bacterial infection in a cow's udder that no antibiotic can cure. It's very, very worrying, especially given that the underuse and misuse of antibiotics is rife," he said.
Two of the biggest issues identified by the Nenagh-based vet were farmers that did not finish out the prescribed course on an animal, as well as the use of the wrong antibiotics in many situations.
"Farmers are ordering the same mastitis tubes every year, and then wondering why resistance is breaking out on their farms.
"But stopping the treatment of an animal halfway through a prescription just because the visible problems have gone away is just as bad. In reality, all you are doing is vaccinating the bacteria against antibiotics," he said.
UCD's Professor of Food Safety and Zoonoses, Seamus Fanning, said that human patients were just as guilty as farmers of not following prescriptions.
"But that's not to say that there isn't an problem in farming. If we run out of antibiotics, we are buggered," he said bluntly.