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Cows at ILRI farm Nairobi (Photo credit: ILRI/Paul Karaimu)

Written by Ekta Patel


As reported last week by Maryn McKenna, a journalist and contributor for WIRED, the director of the center of disease dynamics, economics and policy in Washington, DC said recently that ‘everyone talks about antibiotics resistance in humans, but no one has been talking about antibiotic resistance in animals’.

The comments were in response to the findings of a study looking at the trends of antimicrobial resistance in animals from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) that are poorly documented. Researchers used geospatial modeling to produce maps of AMR in LMICs and give policymakers a baseline for monitoring AMR levels in animals and target interventions in the regions most affected by the rise of resistance.

The director, Ramanan Laxminarayan who is also the senior author on a recently published paper said that there are far more animals than humans on the planet, and they are essential for livelihoods across the developing world. He argued that if they were not able to treat sick animals, it would have a huge impact on global poverty.

Journalist McKenna goes on to report the following:

‘Antibiotics are added to animals’ feed, accelerating their growth and preventing them from getting sick in crowded barns and feedlots. Possibly three-fourths of all the antibiotics dispensed in the world are used this way which is not at all how they are used in humans where the point of drugs is to cure infections, not prevent them.

‘The practice is risky because whenever antibiotics are deployed, the microbial world reacts to them with defensive mutations that protect bacteria from being killed. It is also troubling because the bacteria present in animals are the same ones – Salmonella, Camphylobacter, E.coli – that cause illness in humans.

‘If a drug loses its effectiveness on farms, it won’t work to cure a person’s infection either.

‘Laxminarayan and his colleagues were convinced that farm-created resistance was posing an equivalent danger to livestock, but unlike in humans medicine, there were no large data sources to help them prove it. Surveillance for resistance on farms is patchy and politically sensitive.’

Read the whole article by Maryn McKenna, Farm animals are the next big antibiotic resistance threat, at, 19 Sept 2019.

Read the full publication, ‘Global trends in antimicrobial resistance in animals in low- and middle-income countries’


The CGIAR AMR hub, led by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) is a platform that applies a One Health approach to support the efforts of low- and middle-income countries in controlling agriculture-associated AMR risks, by promoting and facilitating trans-disciplinary partnerships. 

CGIAR research program: