NORWAY – Norwegian veterinarians are blaming imported dogs on a rise in bacterial resistance and numbers of ‘highly resistant’ bacteria over the past year.
The news comes against a recent national history of low resistance, according to the Norwegian Veterinary Institute (NVI), speaking last week, ahead of Antibiotic Awareness Day (18 November).
However, globalisation, travel and indiscriminate use of antimicrobial medicines are causing incidence rates to rise.
Swine and chicken farms along with pets - dogs in particular - have been underlined as potential species of concern.
In a statement, the NVI said: “We now have an extremely drug-resistant staphylococcus bacteria in the dog equivalent of human Staphylococcus aureus.”
"Dogs are now being imported to Norway from countries where resistant bacteria are common. Such dogs may carry the bacteria to Norway and can be a source of infection to humans.”
But, the NVI added that the issue of resistance extends to farming.
Pig units in eastern and western Norway are more associated with the Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) strain, whereas the poultry sector has been saddled with E.Coli.
The findings of thirteenth joint NORM/NORMVET study into antibiotic use in human and veterinary medicine showed that Norwegian’s consumption and resistance remains low in comparison to the European Union.
The report said human usage has been stable, although rose in 2012. In animals, use of antimicrobial products has dropped 36 per cent from 1995 to 2012.
This is due to a 38 per cent reduction in usage within food producing animals. Use of combination preparations of penicillin and dihydro-streptomycin fell during this period.
Food safety risks are therefore small, the exception being in chicken fillets which represent a risk of transmission to humans when carrying Extended Spectrum Beta-Lactamase (ESBL) E.Coli.
Last year’s monitoring found that 32 per cent of chicken fillets contained resistant E.Coli bacteria.
This is worrying, both for animal and human health because of the ability for infections to pass into humans, according to Marriane Sunde, a researcher at the Department of Bacteriology, Norwegian Veterinary Institute (NVI).
She is calling for ‘clear rules’ to be in place so that owners and veterinary clinics can be aware of how to prevent transmission.
“We still know too little about this, but Dutch studies have shown association between resistant bacteria in chicken and subsequent resistance in humans,” said Mrs Sunde.
While transmission of resistant bacterial strains is debateable, scientists are certain that by reducing the use of critically important drugs, the efficacy of them will be preserved for longer.
“It is an unwritten rule that a doctor should avoid using such important drugs to treat infections wherever possible,” explained the NVI. “However, we still see this happening.”
Antimicrobial resistance surveillance was first established in 1999 when NORM started monitoring human drug use.
The animal equivalent - NORM-VET - was brought in the following year, coordinated by the Norwegian Zoonosis Centre at the Norwegian Veterinary Institute.
Both programmes collate wholesalers’ data on antimicrobial sales reported to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. Mandatory reporting was introduced in 2002.
Usage of feed additives i.e. coccidiostatic growth promoters are obtained from the Norwegian Food Safety Authority.
You can view the full report by clicking here.
Top image via Shutterstock