Antimicrobial resistance is a growing global concern, and the peak body for veterinarians, the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) says that everyone, including pet owners, has a role to play in fighting antimicrobial resistance.
World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (18-24 November) is an initiative of the World Health Organisation (WHO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The aim is to raise awareness about responsible use of antibiotics in human health and veterinary medicine.
President of the AVA, Dr Warwick Vale, said that the overuse of antibiotics in people and animals across the globe has led to a worldwide spread of resistant bugs, which is making infections harder to treat with existing antibiotics. To curb this trend, it’s important for everyone to understand their role in fighting antibiotic resistance.
“Fortunately, in Australia, we have judicious-use guidelines in place that ensure we are not over-prescribing antibiotics in animals; in fact, antibiotic use in animals in Australia is extremely low compared to most of the rest of the world.
“While this is certainly positive, we need to ensure we are continually improving on our antibiotic use in animals and pets, which is why pet owners must be fully informed regarding ways they can help to fight antimicrobial resistance.
“Pet owners should only give their pet antibiotics when prescribed by a veterinarian. Never use antibiotics from another pet, yourself or those left over from another condition on your pet.
“As is the case in human health, not every illness requires antibiotics, so don’t expect your veterinarian to recommend antibiotics every time your pet gets sick. But please always feel free to discuss the role of antibiotics with your vet” Dr Vale said.
Dr Vale says that, as antibiotics are mainly used when an animal becomes sick, infection prevention and control is a key component in the fight against antimicrobial resistance.
“Providing your pet with good nutrition, exercise, regular worming and vaccinations are key to preventing illness and keeping your pet healthy. Yearly check-ups with your veterinarian are also an important part of preventive healthcare. Also, when handling your pet, always follow simple hygiene measures such as washing your hands to reduce the risk of bacteria transferring between you and your pet,” Dr Vale said.