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Land-grant Universities Help Educate Public about Antimicrobial Resistance

Nifa Author
Lori Tyler Gula, Senior Public Affairs Specialist

Antimicrobial resistant (AMR) infections have been recognized globally as a significant threat to public health. In response to this crisis, wide-ranging research efforts are underway into the mechanisms of AMR development, AMR control, improved medical diagnostics and the development of new medicines to stay ahead of resistant infections.

However, beyond research, one of the largest contributors to widespread AMR is a lack of public awareness of the scale of the threat and the role of individuals in increasing the chance of an AMR infection.

Thus, in 2018, Extension educators from across the United States with expertise in livestock production, veterinary medicine, food safety, communication strategies and environmental management teamed up for the iAMResponsible project to develop the capacity to design and deliver Extension programming and outreach focused on AMR.

Led by the University of Maryland College Park, iAMResponsible is intended to convey a shared obligation to understand the impacts of growing AMR, adopt science-based practices to mitigate AMR and preserve the efficacy of antibiotics for future generations.

The objectives of the iAMResponsible project are to increase nationwide capacity to develop AR-related educational content, facilitate the dissemination of research-based materials, effectively engage audiences of disparate backgrounds on shared responsibility for AMR, and empower behavioral changes among audience members to combat AMR.

At Mississippi State University, Extension educators have offered training and tools in formal and informal settings to promote a culture of responsible antibiotic use among 4-H and other youths, cattle producers and veterinarians. They provided resources to help these stakeholders provide a system of care, consistent with responsible antibiotic use principles, that keep cattle healthy and productive with less use of antibiotics.

Resources designed for 4-H youths included a 4-H project on animal care, a website with updated resources on animal care to support the animal care project, and a free electronic cattle health database for recording health and performance of cattle in 4-H projects.

For cattle producers, Extension developed a confidential, cloud-based animal health database for recording health and performance of cattle using a smartphone interface, populated a website to support and download the cattle health database, provided antibiotic stewardship education, and offered local training programs to cow-calf and stocker cattle producers on beef quality assurance, including how to use antibiotics responsibly and how to use health records to keep cattle healthy.

For veterinarians, Extension developed a confidential cloud-based animal health database for recording health and performance of cattle using smartphone technology (veterinary access to client records with permission), developed a website to support and download the cattle health database and provide antibiotic stewardship education, and offered training programs to U.S. veterinarians on antibiotic stewardship and using health records to keep cattle healthy.

In addition, Extension educators are helping to prepare a veterinary workforce to assist livestock producers in rural communities with improving animal health and well-being, protecting the safety and security of the food supply, promoting public health and improving profitability, all with less use of antibiotics. To date, more than 400 veterinary students have participated in additional clinical opportunities to gain practical experience and applied problem solving in population medicine. And medical and graduate students have taken advantage of Extension’s advanced training opportunities in population medicine.

Top image: Dairy farm producer consulting with veterinarian. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock. 

Farm Bill Priority Areas
Animal health and production and animal products;
Food Safety, Nutrition, and Health
U.S. States and Territories
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