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Chapter 39 : Antimicrobial Use in Animals in the United States: Developments in Policy and Practice
Since the early 1950s, antimicrobials have been used in companion, sport, and food animals to treat bacterial infections and to control or prevent their spread throughout populations. While it seems clear from even the most conservative industry estimates that the total amount of antimicrobials administered to animals in the United States is not insignificant relative to use in human medicine, the exact quantity administered annually remains unknown. In the United States, antimicrobial resistance surveillance is conducted through the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System-Enteric Bacteria (NARMS). NARMS monitors changes in antimicrobial drug susceptibilities of selected bacteria in food animals, humans, and retail meats in relation to antimicrobial agents of importance in human and food animal medicine. Indicator species monitored by NARMS include strains of Campylobacter, Escherichia coli, Enterococcus, Listeria, Salmonella, and Vibrio. The only official data on antimicrobial use in animals available to the public are annual surveys conducted by the National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics (APUA) established an Advisory Committee on Animal Antimicrobial Use Data Collection in the United States in the spring of 2002 in order to address methodological issues surrounding domestic food animal antimicrobial use surveillance. Citing concerns for food safety, some multinational food-industry corporations have also become involved in issues relating to antimicrobial use in food animals in recent years.