Q. The audience you want to reach – who are they and what do you want them to take away when the Symposium closes?
A. The audience: animal health community, public health community, environmental health community, agricultural industry (farm to table), regulatory, consumers, academia, policy makers, and media
I hope the participants understand the issue of antibiotic use and resistance better and have gained some additional perspectives. A wise man once said, "If you think you understand antimicrobial resistance, then someone didn't explain it to your correctly." They need to understand that antibiotic resistance is complicated and there is no silver bullet solution, maybe silver buckshot.
The audience will engage in open dialogue giving input to outlining and prioritizing key issues, barriers and potential paths forward. I expect that a white paper will come out of this conference covering both the presenters’ discussions as well as the table discussions. I hope that each participant, as well as others that did not attend, might be able to use the information in their daily work to work together to improve health.
Q. Let’s break the symposium down into its day parts. The first day of the Symposium focuses on antimicrobial use in agriculture, something that’s becoming increasingly controversial. I’ve read reports that claim up to 80% of all antibiotics are used on the farm and point to that number as proof of overuse. What are the facts?
A. Actually, the first day focuses on antimicrobial use, period. This includes animal, plant and public health, so we are looking at a much bigger picture than just agriculture. We will also be discussing judicious use programs in animal and public health. There will be time for questions and answers with the speakers and a facilitated discussion will complete the day.
Of the reported 80% of antibiotics sold for use in food animal production, 28% of that amount are ionophores, which is a class of antibiotics not used in human medicine and therefore have no potential to contribute to the burden of human antibiotic resistance. Unfortunately, FDA does not track the amount of antibiotics used in human medicine in the same manner, so there is no comparable data. Also keep in mind that the amount (by weight) of antibiotics used to medicate a 1500 cow tends to be more than an average human would need. We need to compare apples to apples.
Q. The second day looks at antimicrobial resistance. Any use of antibiotics eventually leads to resistant strains of bacteria. The issue is overuse. What kinds of information are you trying to develop for day two?