More than half of farmers treat animals without prescription, survey finds

SERDANG: More than half of the farmers in a survey in Selangor used antibiotics on their livestock without prescription.

Two-thirds actually stored these antibiotics in their farms.

The survey – Knowledge, attitude and perception regarding antimicrobial resistance and usage among ruminant farmers in Selangor, Malaysia – is the first study of its kind on antimicrobial (antibiotics) usage (AMU) among livestock farmers in Malaysia.

It revealed that out of the 84 farmers surveyed in Selangor, less than half – 46% or 39 respondents – obtained veterinarian prescription prior to antibiotic use.

Shockingly, 64% or 54 farmers had actually stored antibiotics in their farms, said the survey published in the Preventive Veterinary Medicine 156 (2018) 76-83 on Aug 1.

In Malaysia, veterinarian prescription is needed before antibiotics licensed by Veterinary Services Department are obtained by farmers.

The lack of control over the use of antibiotics in livestock posed a concern because most of those used in animals are also used in humans and could lead to antibiotic or antimicrobial resistance (AMR), resulting in the emergence of superbugs.

The survey, carried out between May and December last year, showed that antibiotics were easily obtained, with 20% or 17 farmers getting these from animal product suppliers or pharmacies and another 27% or 23 farmers from previous unfinished stock.

“Malpractices such as inappropriate antibiotics use and wrong doses could be precipitated,” it said.

Almost 40% disagreed with the practice of non-storing of antibiotics as a measure to address AMR, claiming that a delay in veterinary services would lead to economic loss.

The survey also found that the knowledge level of farmers was generally low, with 71% or 60 of the respondents saying all sick animals needed to be given antibiotics while 88% or 74 respondents indicated they would follow the instructions on packaged drugs.

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