Supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Antimicrobial Awareness Week aims to increase awareness of global antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and to encourage best practices among clinicians, policymakers and also the public to avoid the further emergence and spread of drug-resistant infections.
Antibiotics have had an incredibly positive impact on human healthcare, animal health and animal welfare, enabling clinicians to treat conditions successfully that were previously fatal. However, there are an increasing number of bacteria that are resistant to the antibiotics we have available.
There are increasing reports of bacteria that are resistant to all antibiotics, and these mechanisms can be passed to other bacteria. This could mean that conditions previously curable will no longer be treatable, so it’s important to re-evaluate how we use antibiotics and reduce any unnecessary prescribing.
Here are some frequently asked questions that might be on your mind as a pet owner …
How can we protect the ability of antibiotics to kill bacteria?
The overuse of antibiotics kills susceptible bacteria, leaving behind the resistant mutants and allowing them to thrive in the absence of competition. Therefore, we should adopt an approach of using antibiotics only when they are indicated rather than ‘just in case’.
My vet has always prescribed antibiotics for the same condition in the past?
As in human medicine, the veterinary profession is continually learning and improving treatment protocols. In particular, we have an increased understanding of conditions which are self-limiting and don’t require antibiotics such as some forms of diarrhoea.
If my vet doesn’t prescribe antibiotics, what happens if things get worse?
Following any consultation, your vet will recommend treatment which may or may not include drug therapy. Your vet will also provide you with information on how to monitor your pet to ensure things are getting better in the expected time frame and not worse. If your pet is not getting better as expected, then they will be re-examined to review the diagnosis and the treatment plan.
Don’t worry, if your pet does need antibiotics, we are still able to prescribe them and will work with you to ensure the best possible treatment is provided for your pet.