Every application of antibacterial drugs in veterinary medicine may encourage selection for resistant bacteria. In Germany no valid data are available which would be suitable for a species specific estimation of drug consumption especially regarding food producing animals. Therefore, a representative monitoring of consumption of antibacterial drugs in food producing animals should be implemented. As a first step, a feasibility project was conducted to identify the technical preconditions and develop a concept for a regular monitoring system within Germany as a country with a non-central federal state system. The data were collected via the forms obligatory by German law concerning the treatment of animals and the delivery of animal drugs to the animal owners by the veterinarian. 24 veterinary practices and 65 farmers were visited, and all applications of antibiotics to farm animals during the course of one year (September 1, 2006 to August 31, 2007) were entered into a central database. A total of 95,584 records were collected and analysed statistically. Consumption of antibiotics was calculated in kg, but also the number of applications was analysed. The consumption of tetracyclines in kg reached 54.3% of all antimicrobial substances applied to pigs, but only 25.7% of all doses applied to pigs were tetracyclines. For the farms' data, the number of daily doses per animal year (DD(ay)) was estimated based on the number of daily doses recorded and on the number of animals kept in the farm. Correct and detailed data regarding the structures of the farms as well as of veterinary practices are necessary to estimate the consumption of antibiotics reliably. The proposed system is able to function as a monitoring system for antibiotic use in Germany, when the monitoring data are linked to the agricultural data (farm sizes) accounting for differences between German regional agricultural and animal husbandry structures. Furthermore, the results of the antibiotic use analyses may serve as basis to assess the results of the sales data of the pharmaceutical industry. Results are comparable to the outcome of respective systems in other European countries, e.g. the Netherlands and Denmark, and therefore it will contribute to a better understanding and development of strategies for the control of antimicrobial resistances on the European level.
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