Today, 18th November, is European Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD), a day when the medical and veterinary professions across Europe join together to remind people how to help make sure that antibiotics remain effective in treating bacterial infections in people and 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 animal health bodies have joined forces to help raise awareness of antibiotic resistance in animals and humans as part of EAAD.
The veterinary profession association in the UK, the 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 (which can mean overuse, but also 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), the government agency that is responsible for animal medicines legislation, to launch a poster aimed at pet owners explaining 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 – one for farmers and the other for pet owners to explain antibiotic resistance.
The poster and leaflets are available to download alongside a range of other resources including posters and guidance for veterinary surgeons, downloadable mythbusters which you can help by sharing via social media, and a webinar aimed at vets, at www.bva.co.uk/eaad
So look out for the poster at your vet’s – and remember ‘Don’t Infect: Don’t Expect: Do Protect’ when it comes to antibiotics.