Veterinary Antimicrobial Resistance and Sales Surveillance 2019
This report (UK VARSS) provides the details of UK veterinary antibiotic resistance and sales surveillance.
The UK-VARSS 2019 Report presents veterinary antibiotic sales data in the UK from 2015 to 2019, food-producing animal sectors’ usage data and antibiotic resistance data from 2017 to 2019.
The UK-VARSS 2019 Supplementary Material provides further details including antibiotic resistance data from Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The UK-VARSS 2019 Highlights summarises key facts from the main report.
Antibiotic sales data
Veterinary pharmaceutical companies submit data annually to the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) on their previous year’s sales of antibiotics authorised for use in animals. The VMD uses the data provided to calculate the volume of active antibiotic ingredient within the medicines sold.
Sales data are used as an estimate for antibiotic usage. However, as not all antibiotics sold will be used, sales figures are generally an overestimate. This highlights the importance of collecting antibiotic usage data.
Antibiotic usage data
Many antibiotics are authorised for use in multiple animal species, so it is not possible to determine from sales data how much is used per species. The VMD is working in partnership with key food-producing animal sectors to develop, facilitate and coordinate antibiotic usage collection systems.
Antibiotic usage refers to the amount of antibiotics purchased, prescribed and/or administered. Producers, feed companies and veterinary practice sales records provided the data presented in the UK-VARSS report.
UK-VARSS 2019 presents usage data from the meat poultry, laying hen, pig, gamebird, salmon, trout and beef and dairy sectors.
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: Harmonised Monitoring, which is carried out as a legal requirement, and a clinical surveillance programme, which relies on voluntary submission of samples by farmers and veterinary surgeons.
Harmonised Monitoring 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 humans (zoonotic organisms). Specifically, this includes bacteria which are common causes of food poisoning such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli.
The clinical surveillance programme involves the collection of field samples from sick animals that have been submitted to government laboratories by a farmer or veterinary surgeon for diagnostic purposes. 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 the Harmonised Monitoring surveillance programme are 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 UK-VARSS reports on the collection page
Last updated 18 November 2020 + show all updates
Added Results Highlights PowerPoint Set UK-VARSS 2019