Baby chicks in a harsh factory farming setting

Antimicrobial Resistance Report 2024


Poultry’s Pill Problem: Antibiotics and its Environmental Concerns. The unregulated use of antibiotics in poultry may have serious implications for developing economies, especially for India, the biggest consumer of antimicrobials in the world.

Antimicrobial Resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, endangering both humans and animal health, the environment, food security, economic development and equity. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 1.27 million deaths occurred from drug-resistant infections in 2019. Today, antibiotics are globally used for therapeutic purposes, prophylactic measures, and as growth promoters in commercial animal production systems. The use of antibiotics in chickens are expected to triple in India by 2030 compared to 2015 as a consequence of the increasing consumer demands and intensive farming practice.

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Antibiotic use plays a key role in selecting resistant bacteria, with both community and hospital environments serving as the primary breeding grounds for their emergence in human health. However, the use of antibiotics in animals has further contributed to the global issue of AMR. Antibiotics are not solely used for therapeutic purposes in food animal production and aquaculture but also for disease prevention (meta phylaxis and prophylactics) and growth promotion. Metaphylactic use involves the treatment of the entire group when a single animal shows disease symptoms, while prophylactic use involves the administration of sub-therapeutic doses to prevent the impact of stress-induced responses that typically pave the way for infectious diseases. The Antibiotic Growth Promoters (AGPs) are antibiotics administrated at sub-therapeutic doses to modify the intestinal microbiota of animals to achieve faster growth and  weight gain. This extensive use of antimicrobials in food-producing animals and fish is one of the reasons for the spread of AMR.

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