infographic-causes This week, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the governments of several countries want people to learn more about antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health today, and, while it occurs naturally, misuse of antibiotics in humans and animals accelerates the process. Monday kicked off the first World Antibiotic Awareness Week, which is aimed at increasing the awareness of antibiotic resistance and encouraging best practices for using antibiotics in order to prolong their effectiveness. The campaign is targeting governments, health and agriculture professionals, and individuals. WHO’s resources include stories about certain countries’ experiences with antibiotic resistance, fact sheets and educational infographics, and a new multi-country survey which points out some of the practices, gaps in understanding and misconceptions which contribute to overuse and misuse of antibiotics. WHO found that almost two-thirds of the 10,000 people who were surveyed across 12 countries say they know antibiotic resistance is an issue that could affect them and their families, but they don’t really understand how it affects them and what they can do to address it. More than 70 percent said farmers should give fewer antibiotics to food-producing animals, with China having the highest proportion of any country in the survey. In recognition of World Antibiotic Awareness Week, the World Organisation for Animal Health made several education tools available through its web portal on antimicrobial resistance. These tools for promoting best practices for the use of antibiotics in animals include posters designed in conjunction with WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and an infographic explaining what’s required from each country to ensure the responsible and prudent use of antibiotics within its territory. “More than 110 of the countries evaluated — mainly developing and emerging countries — do not yet have relevant legislation concerning appropriate conditions for the importation, manufacture, distribution and use of veterinary products, including antimicrobials,” wrote OIE Director General Bernard Vallat. “In some cases, legislation is totally non-existent. Where it does exist, it is very often not properly applied because of lack of public funds for the implementation of controls.” The European Centre of Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has coordinated the European Antibiotic Awareness Day on Nov. 18 every year since 2008 and this year partnered with WHO on its week-long campaign. To mark the first World Antibiotic Awareness Week, ECDC will coordinate a 24-hour global Twitter chat on Wednesday, Nov. 18, using the hashtag #AntibioticResistance. WHO’s headquarters in Geneva and its regional offices, along with partner organizations in Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the United States, will also participate. Experts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will lead the conversation from 2-4 p.m. ET. In the U.S., President Obama declared the week “Get Smart About Antibiotics Week” and most of the resources, commitments and events publicized by CDC focus on human health. These include The Pew Charitable Trust briefing on Capitol Hill, Walmart’s educational videos for checkout lines across the country, an in-flight PSA featured on Jet Blue and other airlines, and the latest U.S. antibiotic prescribing rate map. Animal antibiotics are left out of the U.S. conversation. However, a technical report released Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that non-therapeutic uses of antibiotics in food-producing animals is endangering medicine’s ability to treat life-threatening infections in young patients. “Infants and children are affected by transmission of susceptible and resistant food zoonotic pathogens through the food supply, direct contact with animals, and environmental pathways,” the report reads. “The overuse and misuse of antimicrobial agents in veterinary and human medicine is, in large part, responsible for the emergence of antibiotic resistance.” The AAP report describes how antimicrobial agents are used in animal agriculture, reviews the mechanisms of how such use contributes to the development of resistance, and discusses U.S. and global initiatives to curb the use of antimicrobial agents in agriculture. infographics-agriculture (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)