Research and analysis

Veterinary Antimicrobial Resistance and Sales Surveillance 2013

This report (UK VARSS) provides the details of UK veterinary antibiotic resistance and sales surveillance.


UK Veterinary Antibiotic Resistance and Sales Surveillance 2013

Request an accessible format.
If you use assistive technology (such as a screen reader) and need a version of this document in a more accessible format, please email Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.


This annual publication presents veterinary antimicrobial sales in the UK from 2009 to 2013 and antimicrobial resistance trends across England and Wales from 2011 to 2013.

Antimicrobial sales data

Veterinary pharmaceutical companies submit data annually to the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) on their previous year’s sales of antimicrobials authorised for use in animals. Antimicrobials include: antibiotic, antiprotozoal and antifungal medicines. The VMD use the data provided to calculate the volume of active antimicrobial ingredient within the medicines sold.

Sales data is used as an estimate for antimicrobial usage. However, as not all antimicrobials sold will be used, sales figures are generally an overestimate. Sales data do not permit more detailed analyses, for example of the consumption of antibiotic by animal species or production class.

UK Antibiotic sales data are also submitted for inclusion in the European Surveillance of Veterinary Antimicrobial Consumption (ESVAC) project.

Monitoring of antibiotic resistance

The VMD collates data from government laboratories on antibiotic resistance in bacteria found in samples from animals. This is managed through two programmes: a structured programme which is carried out as a legal requirement and a scanning programme which relies on voluntary submission of samples by farmers and veterinary surgeons.

The structured programme involves the collection of samples from healthy livestock. Samples are tested for the presence of antibiotic resistant bacteria. The bacteria of interest are those which can potentially transfer between animals and man (zoonotic organisms). Specifically, this includes bacteria which are common causes of food poisoning such as Salmonella, Campylobacter and E. coli.

The scanning programme involves the collection of samples from deceased animals that have been submitted to government laboratories by a farmer or veterinary surgeon wanting to determine cause of death. Any bacteria identified, including those which may cause disease in animals (veterinary pathogens), are tested for antibiotic resistance.

Findings from both programmes are reported to the VMD. Monitoring antibiotic resistance allows changes or trends in the level of resistance to be picked up.

Data from these surveillance programmes is also submitted to the European Food Safety authority (EFSA) for inclusion in the annually published European Union Summary Report on Antimicrobial resistance in zoonotic and indicator bacteria from humans, animals and food in the European Union.

You can find previous reports on the archived webpage.

Updates to this page

Published 18 November 2014

Sign up for emails or print this page