Denmark further reduces antimicrobial use in animals

Annual DANMAP report marks 20 years of tracking antimicrobial use in animals in Denmark.

In Denmark, antimicrobial consumption in animals has continued to decrease in 2015, mainly due to a reduction in pigs. By contrast, serious outbreaks of disease among broiler chickens and mink have resulted in an increased use of antimicrobials in these animals.

These are some of the findings in the annual DANMAP report from Statens Serum Institut as well as the National Veterinary Institute and the National Food Institute, which are both departments in the Technical University of Denmark. This year’s report is the 20th anniversary edition of DANMAP.

The total antimicrobial consumption in Denmark — when measured in kilograms — in production and companion animals was 5% lower in 2015 than in the previous year. The fall in consumption is mainly due to a 5% reduction in usage in the pig production sector, which constitutes about 86% of meat production in Denmark, the announcement said, noting that more pigs were produced in Denmark in 2015 than in 2014.

Antimicrobial consumption in swine, when measured in doses and adjusted for the number of pigs produced per year, was 22% lower in 2015 than in 2009, when consumption was at its peak following Denmark’s ban on the use of antimicrobial growth promoters. This decrease in consumption is primarily due to a reduction in the use of tetracyclines, which has been reduced by 9% since 2014 and by 24% since 2009, the DANMAP report says.

However, contrary to the general fall in antimicrobial use in pigs, the use of colistins has doubled from 409 kg in 2009 to 825 kg in 2015, mainly due to an increased use in weaner pigs.

"The increase in consumption of colistins among animals is not desirable, because this type of antimicrobial is used to treat serious bacterial infections in people, where other antimicrobials are ineffective," Flemming Bager, head of division from the National Food Institute, said.

Other animals

Several severe disease outbreaks in the boiler production are the reason behind a 184% increase in antimicrobial consumption in the poultry production in 2015, the DANMAP report says. The increase applies particularly to tetracyclines and macrolides. As such, consumption is by far the highest in the past decade.

"Antimicrobial consumption in the broiler production has traditionally been very low. So when, as in this past year, it is necessary to take action to treat some serious disease outbreaks, this will result in considerable fluctuations in consumption figures,” Bager explained.

Large fluctuations in the consumption of antimicrobials for the treatment of mink and fish were also observed in 2015. Again, this can mainly be explained by unusual disease patterns, such as the biggest outbreak in Danish history of plasmocytosis in mink, which has resulted in a 23% increase in antimicrobial consumption in the mink industry.

By contrast, a cool summer has resulted in fewer disease problems in fish farms in Denmark and antimicrobial consumption is 42% lower in 2015 than the year before. A successful vaccination strategy has also helped to generally reduce antimicrobial consumption in fish farms.

Consumption figures for companion animals show a 15% decrease overall in 2015, which includes a reduction in the use of two types of critically important antimicrobials, namely cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones. This is in line with the Danish Veterinary Assn.’s treatment manual, which encourages minimal use of critically important antimicrobials.

Consumption of critically important antimicrobials — such as cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones — is still very low in production animals, DANMAP found.

"By only using critically important antimicrobials to treat animals, when it is absolutely necessary, farmers are helping to ensure that these drugs continue to be effective in the treatment of seriously ill people,” Bager said.

The full DANMAP report can be found here.

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