Safeguard antibiotics for animal health too

18 November 2013

On European Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD), 18 November, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) is reminding animal owners that the rules for safeguarding antibiotics in humans also apply to animals.

The issue of antibiotic resistance in humans has been described by the Chief Medical Officer as a ‘catastrophic threat' and was raised at the G8 summit of global world leaders earlier this year. But it is not just a human health issue and BVA is using EAAD to raise awareness of the need for responsible use of antibiotics (or antimicrobials) in animals too.

Antibiotics are essential for both human and animal health but irresponsible use (including overuse, underuse and misuse) can lead to resistance and ultimately to these medicines becoming ineffective. The problem of resistance in humans is primarily the result of antibiotic use in people, rather than veterinary use, but the use in animal healthcare is an important factor contributing to the wider pool of resistance.

The BVA has teamed up with the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) to launch a poster aimed at pet owners to help them understand how to keep antibiotics working with the simple message ‘Don't Infect, Don't Expect, Do Protect'.

• Don't infect – keep animals healthy through preventive treatment, exercise and good nutrition, and practice good hygiene.
• Don't expect – like in human health not every illness requires antibiotics. Antibiotics will only be prescribed by a veterinary surgeon following a clinical assessment.
• Do protect – antibiotics must be used according to the instructions on the label and a course must be completed even if the animal is getting better.

BVA has also produced two client leaflets aimed at farmers and pet owners to explain antibiotic resistance.

The poster and leaflets are available for veterinary practices (and members of the public) to download alongside a range of other resources including posters and guidance for veterinary surgeons, downloadable mythbusters to be shared via social media, and a webinar aimed at vets, at www.bva.co.uk/eaad

All of the key animal health bodies have joined forces to raise awareness of antibiotic resistance in animals and humans as part of EAAD.

Commenting, BVA Past President Peter Jones said:

“The veterinary profession is acutely aware of the problem of antibiotic resistance and BVA has been working for many years to promote responsible use of these vital medicines.

“We all know that antibiotic resistance is a serious threat but animal owners need help to understand what that means in practice and what they can do to reduce the likelihood of resistance developing.

“Our simple message of Don't Infect, Don't Expect, Do Protect should help owners to follow good practice and ensure that antibiotics continue to work for all animals and humans.”

Further Information

European Antibiotic Awareness Day is marked annually on 18 November to coordinate initiatives across Europe to spread messages on the risks associated with inappropriate use of antibiotics and how to use antibiotics responsibly in human and animal healthcare. More information is available at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

BVA has pulled together all of its resources aimed at veterinary surgeons and animal owners at www.bva.co.uk/eaad.

BVA tweets at @BritishVets and will be using the hashtag #EAAD for all EAAD news and content.

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