The British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) strongly recommends that the veterinary profession embraces the responsible use of antibacterials, as part of the One Health approach to antimicrobial use, in order to:
The BSAVA recommends that veterinary surgeons in practice develop and implement a practice policy to encourage responsible prescribing of antibacterials in their practice. Examples of such policies include BSAVA PROTECT ME, FECAVA Recommendations for Appropriate Antimicrobial Therapy, Antibiotic Use Guidelines for Companion Animal Practice (2nd Edition) and Guidance for the use of antimicrobials (GRAM) book. It is recommended that advice be included about:
The BSAVA strongly discourages the use of antibacterials with restricted use in human medicine ( e.g. Imipenem and Vancomycin) in any circumstances.
Antibacterials are essential drugs for treating bacterial infections, providing great benefits to humans and domestic animals by enabling the treatment of diseases that previously caused significant morbidity and mortality.
Unfortunately, inappropriate use of antibacterials has hastened the development of antibacterial resistance. Although the use of antibacterials does not in itself induce resistance, reducing the growth or killing susceptible strains promotes the relative proliferation of resistant bacteria.
Antimicrobial resistant infections can be associated with a variety of bacteria including multi-drug resistant Pseudomonas species, extended spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) producing Enterobacteriaceae (e.g. ESBL E. coli) and, meticillin-resistant staphylococci such as Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Staphylococcus pseudintermedius (MRSP). MRSA and other meticillin-resistant staphylococci have been isolated from humans, dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, horses and farm animals. Animals could be at risk of colonization or infection in veterinary premises and/or act as reservoirs for colonization or infection of in-contact humans. High standards of clinical practice and hygiene are vital to prevent the spread of these organisms. Responsible antimicrobial use will help slow the development of resistance and help preserve the efficacy of existing antimicrobial drugs for the future.
At the same time as antibacterials have become less effective as a result of the development of antibacterial resistance, there has been a reduced rate of development of new drugs. These two factors mean that it is essential to protect the effectiveness of the currently available antibacterials through responsible use and stewardship.
Antibacterial resistance is recognised as a “One Health” issue affecting humans, animals and the environment. It is a global issue that requires global solutions and an integrated strategy that aims to:
In the UK, all veterinary antibacterials are prescription-only medicines (POM-V); therefore the responsibility for and control of antibacterial use rests with the prescribing veterinary surgeon.
Responsible antimicrobial prescribing is now a requirement under the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct which states: “Veterinary surgeons must be seen to ensure that when using antimicrobials they do so responsibly, and be accountable for the choices made in such use.”
The BSAVA and Small Animal Medicine Society (SAMSOC) have produced the PROTECT ME poster and guidance to encourage responsible antibacterial prescribing.
BSAVA Medicines Guide: Antibacterials
BSAVA Scientific Information Document: Meticillin-resistant staphylococci
UK 5 year antimicrobial strategy (2013-2018)
Bella Moss Foundation
Companion November 2018: The why and how of antimicrobial prophylaxis
Companion November 2018: PROTECT ME
Guidance for the rational use of antimicrobials (GRAM) book
FECAVA Recommendations for Appropriate Antimicrobial Therapy
World Health Organisation
VMD position statement on antibacterial use
NOAH information on AMR
European Medicines Agency (EMA) information on veterinary medicines and AMR
Antibiotic Use Guidelines for Companion Animal Practice (2nd Edition)
Reviewed by Fergus Allerton and members of BSAVA Scientific Committee (Alexander German, Jeremy Kirk, Caroline Kisielewicz, Lisa Morrow, Ian Self, Melissa Upjohn, James Warland) 2022
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