Reduction of antibiotic use and MRSA in livestock

Antimicrobial resistance is one of the biggest challenges of the modern era. The major driver of antibiotic resistance in bacteria is exposure to antibiotics. Therefore, reducing inappropriate antibiotic use is one of the main interventions needed to address the problem of resistance.

Research undertaken in the Department of Veterinary Medicine identified a previously unknown methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), mecC, and generated epidemiological evidence of the burden of livestock-associated MRSA in the UK and internationally. The findings informed policymakers in the UK and Europe, resulting in policies to improve antibiotic stewardship.

This contributed to a 45% reduction in antibiotic use in agriculture in the UK, with a 90% reduction in the use of third- and fourth-generation cephalosporins, the antibiotic class to which the mecC variant of MRSA is most resistant.

UK sampling in 2017, 2018 and 2019 found no occurrence of the resistant strains mecC and mecA in food-producing animals.