UK antibiotic resistance five-year national action plan looks to salmon farming as model of success

British government to explore alternatives to antibiotics in aquaculture as well as farming.

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has released a five-year action plan to reduce AMR (antimicrobial resistance) and raise awareness.

Vaccination is a widely recognised way of preventing infection in animals, when supported by good hygiene, biosecurity and management practices.

The report cited “there may not be a vaccine for every disease in every animal, but there are readily available vaccines to control a broad range of infectious diseases in animals. There is scope to improve their uptake; and to explore alternatives to antibiotics in animals and aquaculture.”

The report acknolwdged that the first step must be to understand why some farmers choose not to vaccinate their animals (including fish). This includes identifying the extent to which veterinarians promote vaccination and investigating the barriers where vaccine use is low.

The goverment cited the Scottish salmon industry as a case study success. In the 1980s, thousands of Scottish salmon werer infected with furunculosis, a bacterial fish disease. At the time, there was no effective vaccine and farmers werer advised to use antibiotics to control the disease. The Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation worked with academia and private entreprise to make sure a vaccine was commerically and practically feasible.

In Scotland in 2017, 3,052.6kg of antibiotic was used across salmon farms, equating to 17.2mg/kg of production.

The national action plan said that it aimed to build on the UK’s achievements so far.