What is Antimicrobial Resistance?
Antimicrobial Resistance happens when bacteria change and become resistant to medications used to treat the infections they cause. In many cases antibiotics are over prescribed and the bacteria evolve and mutate into superbugs that can cause untreatable infections in people. This compromises the ability of medications including antibiotics to treat infectious diseases.
Antibiotics are also used in the raising of animals for food to promote growth, and this is of great concern. The misuse and overuse of these antibiotics in the raising of animal for food results in drug resistant bacteria that is present in the food chain from farm to table. Workers on farms and slaughter houses are at higher risk of exposure.
Meat and poultry processing workers can be at risk of contracting antimicrobial resistant disease through handling infected carcasses, work tools and raw meat products. The risk of contracting resistant bacteria increases if the worker has an open cut or wound as the disease carrying the resistant microbes can only enter the body through broken skin. Infected workers may carry these dangerous microbes home to family and community.
Over 750,000 people die every year from being infected with bacteria that is resistant to medication including antibiotics.
If left unattended, drug resistant bacteria may evolve into one of the most significant public health challenges worldwide with an expected 10 million people dying every year by 2050.
The best way to protect workers is to remove or eliminate the hazard from the workplace.
What can policy makers do to address antimicrobial resistance?
Ensure we have a robust National Action Plan to tackle antimicrobial resistance
Ensure that antibiotics given to animals for food producing animals are only used to control or treat infectious disease
Promote the adoption of sustainable systems with improved hygiene, biosecurity, and stress-free handling of animals
What can employers do to protect workers from antimicrobial resistance?
Slow line speeds to reduce the number of lacerations to workers
Ensure work surfaces and tools are free of contaminated matter
Provide workers with adequate hand washing stations which includes soap and disinfectants
Administer first aid to lacerations immediately
What can I do to avoid antibiotic resistant illnesses and bacteria?
Prevent infections by regularly washing your hands, avoiding close contact with sick people and keeping vaccinations up to date
Only use prescribed antibiotics and always take the full prescription, even if you feel better
Prevent infections by ensuring your hands, instruments and environment are clean