Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is significant and growing challenge to global health. Existing antimicrobials are becoming less effective and pathogenic organisms are increasing the rate at which they become resistant to treatment. This is a complex problem, with many different factors driving the emergence of AMR at many different levels.

To tackle this complex threat, multidisciplinary One Health approaches are crucial. One Health is the concept that human health, animal health and the environment are all connected. One Health approaches combine the efforts of multiple disciplines – such as human and veterinary medicine, ecology, sociology, epidemiology, and economics – to facilitate an interdisciplinary approach.

Here at the RVC we are carrying out research addressing AMR from a One Health perspective. Using interdisciplinary approaches our research is addressing this problem both in the UK and worldwide, with particular focus on developing countries through our membership of the London International Development Centre and collaborations with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and SOAS.

Our areas of interest and expertise range from understanding antimicrobial usage and the epidemiology and economics of AMR, through to developing alternative therapies, understanding pathogenesis and resistance mechanisms, and pharmacokinetics and mathematical modelling.

Featured projects

AMFORA: Applying a One Health systems modelling approach to formulate strategies for mitigating the risk to human health of antibiotic resistance in Aquaculture

AMFORA: Applying a One Health systems modelling approach to formulate strategies for mitigating the risk to human health of antibiotic resistance in Aquaculture

Lucy Brunton, Maria Garza, Barbara Häsler, Ana Mateus and Javier Guitian

Aquaculture systems are highly complex and influenced by environmental, biological, cultural, socio-economic and human behavioural factors. The growing importance of aquaculture is fuelling a transition of small-scale farming to industrial intensification in low and middle income countries. This transition is likely to be driving the extensive and often indiscriminate use of antibiotics in these systems to treat or prevent disease and increase productivity, often to compensate for management and husbandry deficiencies. But enforcement of regulations for the responsible use of antibiotics is often inefficient and surveillance or monitoring of antibiotic usage (ABU) and antibiotic resistance (ABR) in these countries is lacking or absent.

The aim of the AMFORA project is to use a ‘systems-thinking’ approach to map aquaculture systems and identify potential hotspots for the emergence and selection of resistance and human exposure to antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant organisms. This will enable the identification of potential drivers of ABU and interventions to reduce ABU.

This is an RVC-led multi-disciplinary project in collaboration with University of Stirling, LSHTM, International Livestock Research Institute, WorldFish, Chittagong Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Bangladesh, Research Institute for Aquaculture No.1, Viet Nam and Kafrelsheikh University, Egypt. AMFORA is funded by an AMR Global Development Award from the UK Medical Research Council.

PET-Risk: Transmission of multidrug-resistant bacteria between pets and humans during different types of animal infection

PET-Risk: Transmission of multidrug-resistant bacteria between pets and humans during different types of animal infection

Anette Loeffler and Sian-Marie Frosini 

The often close contact between pets and humans provides opportunities for transmission of multi-drug resistant (MDR) bacteria and of their resistance genes in either direction. During active infection, higher numbers of bacteria and resistance genes are present which can lead to an increased risk of transmission, but the extent to which this happens remains unknown.

Through this project, an international consortium will compare this risk of transmission to people from pets suffering with skin and soft tissue infections and from those diagnosed with urinary tract infections. A longitudinal study will be conducted to examine the skin and gastrointestinal microflora of pets and their in-contact people for MDR bacteria and their resistance genes before, during and after antimicrobial therapy. The study will allow measurement of the critical control points at which interventions could substantially affect the spread of resistance. It will use state-of-the-art techniques to show the causality and directionality of pet-human spread of MDR bacteria, ultimately helping to design and evaluate preventive and intervening measures to reduce public health risks relating to antimicrobial resistance in animals.

This is a three-year Joint Programme Initiative on Antimicrobial Resistance (JPIAMR), part-funded by the UK Medical Research Council (MRC).

One Health Poultry Hub

One Health Poultry Hub

Fiona Tomley, Ayona Silva-Fletcher, Guillaume Fournié, Barbara Häsler, Androniki Psifidi, Nicola Lewis, Damer Blake, Ludovic Pelligand, Dirk Pfeiffer and Oliver Pybus 

The GCRF One Health Poultry Hub is led by the RVC and funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund of UK Research & Innovation. The hub will address the need to meet rising demand for poultry meat and eggs in developing countries, while minimising risk to international public health.

Urbanisation, accompanied by rising incomes, continues to lead increased demands for animal protein. Poultry meat and eggs are the biggest global source of protein for humans and a major challenge is to achieve sustainable expansion whilst reducing risk to health from 1) epidemic Avian Influenza, 2) antimicrobial resistance, 3) foodborne zoonoses including Campylobacter, Salmonella and E. coli 4) Disruption of the natural chicken gut microbiome, leading to increased pathogen carriage.

The GCRF One Health Poultry Hub will adopt a ‘One Health’ approach to the issue of combatting animal-to-human diseases by bringing together a team of laboratory, clinical, veterinary and social scientists. This team will test and evaluate novel interventions. The need for safe poultry production is most urgent in South and South East Asia, so the RVC and its partners will then use their local networks in these regions to put its positive research to immediate use.

Top of page