The inappropriate use of antibiotics in animals to treat diseases is having a knock-on effect on human health, a conference has been told.
Microbiologist Dr Robert Cunney said germs such as Ecoli, which have become resistant to antibiotics in animals can circulate in areas like water systems and be passed on to humans.
It means that vets and doctors have to work together to reduce the overuse and inappropriate use of these drugs in animals and humans because these drugs are losing their power to kill off very serious infections. Dr Cunney of the Royal College of Physicians was at the conference which stressed the need to take control of the march of superbugs by better prescribing of antibiotics.
He said antibiotic use in Irish-produced meat was kept in check by surveillance of residues before it was marketed for the dinner plate. However, other countries which export meat to Ireland may not have the same strict regime.
"The evidence is that for any action to reduce the prescribing of antibiotics to be effective, a combination of prescriber education and public education and awareness is required," he added.