Danish input into U.S. roadmap to reduce antimicrobial use

Tuesday 02 Jan 18


Valeria Bortolaia
Project participant
National Food Institute

A new policy roadmap aimed at reducing the U.S. farming sector’s use of antimicrobials vital to treating sick humans, draws on Denmark’s experience in this area.

Antimicrobial resistance is one of the biggest threats to human health according to the World Health Organization, WHO. A number of antimicrobials are ’critically important’ in the treatment of humans, as they are the only or one of only a few antimicrobials, which can be used to treat serious or life-threatening infections in humans. It is of vital importance that these drugs are only used to treat animals when absolutely necessary, to ensure they continue to be effective in human medicine.

About 70% of medically important antimicrobials sold in the U.S. are given to food-producing animals, which can potentially lead to the development of antimicrobial resistant bacteria that can be transmitted to humans. To combat this threat, a 12-man-strong interdisciplinary commission has come up with a policy roadmap. It contains specific recommendations to decrease antimicrobial use in livestock and to set up systems to monitor the use of antimicrobials as well as the prevalence of resistant bacteria.

The commission comprises antimicrobial resistance experts from the fields of infectious disease medicine, veterinary medicine, microbiology, epidemiology and public health and includes a senior researcher from the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, who has contributed the institute’s knowledge on resistance problems.

For more than ten years, the National Food Institute has served as European reference laboratory for antimicrobial resistance in foodborne bacteria. For more than 20 years the institute has also been one of the partners behind the DANMAP-programme, which monitors the use of antimicrobials and the occurrence of antimicrobial resistance among animals, humans and foods in Denmark, making it possible to launch science-based initiatives aimed at combating antimicrobial resistance.

The institute is also WHO Collaborating Centre for Antimicrobial Resistance in Foodborne Pathogens and Genomics.

Read more

The roadmap is detailed in the Expert Commission’s report: Combating antibiotic resistance: A Policy Roadmap to Reduce Use of Medically Important Antibiotics in Livestock (pdf).

Please also read about Denmark’s experience over the past 20 years in reducing the use of antimicrobial agents as well as antimicrobial resistance on the National Food Institute’s special topic portal about antimicrobial resistance.