“75% of the antimicrobials in dairy herds are used in the mammary gland.”

Tine van Werven is Associate Professor in Dairy Herd Management at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Utrecht, the Netherlands. One of her main interests is the use of antibiotics in dairy cattle. M²-magazine talked to her about the issue of controlling and reducing antibiotic use.

 To set the scene, why is the use of antibiotics in farm animals receiving so much attention at present?

“There is a relationship between the use of antibiotics in farm animals and human health in that both entities face the same problem – an increase of antimicrobial resistance. Although much research has been done and is ongoing, there is little evidence that the use of antimicrobials in farm animals is, one to one, related to the increase of resistance in human health.

In particular, for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) we can conclude that human medicine and veterinary medicine both have their own resistance problems, but with only a small overlap between the two disciplines. This does not mean that there is no need to use antimicrobials in farm animals in a more prudent way. Acquired resistance in livestock is highly related to