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New report summarizes Sweden's antibiotic reduction efforts

Photo: Jenny Svennås-Gillner. SLU BRSV testing.jpg
Jean-François Valarcher and Sara Hägglund take samples on cows for diagnosis of infection of bovine respiratory syncytial virus.
Report notes "considerable unawareness" about how Sweden developed and implemented its responsible antibiotic use plans for animal health.

In 1986, Sweden was the first country in the world to prohibit the use of antibiotics in animal feed for growth promotion purposes. Now, the Future Animals, Nature & Health group at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) has published a new report that summarizes Sweden's work to achieve responsible use of antibiotics for animals as well as important success factors.

"The report can serve as support when Swedish researchers participate in international projects on antibiotic use and preventive animal health work," said Johanna Grundin and Susanna Sternberg Lewerin, two authors of the report.

SLU said the report's content was originally written to provide data within a major international research project. It became obvious during the project that there was a lack of knowledge among colleagues researching antibiotic resistance about what was done in Sweden and how successful this work was.

Despite the fact that Sweden and Swedish veterinary medicine are often seen as pioneers in responsible antibiotic use and preventive animal health, there is a considerable unawareness about how this has developed and the work behind it, SLU said.

"There are misconceptions that we have few animals, small populations and a climate that limits disease spread or that we do not treat our sick animals," Lewerin said.

"The report gives a good understanding of the situation, describes the knowledge and experiences -- good as well as bad -- that have been gained during all the years we have worked for responsible antibiotic use," Grundin added.

This report can serve as support when Swedish researchers participate in international projects on antibiotic use and preventive animal health work.

According to SLU, animal production in Sweden is characterized by strong protection of animals and good animal welfare, and Sweden is a world leader in the prudent use of antibiotics while at the same time keeping animals healthy.

SLU said this makes the country "an important role model in the world, and it is in line with the updated Swedish antibiotic strategy (in Swedish). Our expertise is requested and used internationally. According to the government, Sweden must continue to show leadership in the international work, within the framework of Agenda 2030" (in Swedish).

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