Vets seek more measures against antimicrobial resistance


The Australian Veterinary Association is calling for more measures to combat antimicrobial resistance – a growing concern for both human and animal health.

Antimicrobial Resistance, the theme of World Veterinary Day on April 28, highlights global concerns over the use of antimicrobials in food-producing animals and the important role veterinarians play in appropriate use of antibiotics to treat animal diseases.

Association president Dr Barry Smyth said problems with resistant superbugs are a concern in Australia. Rigorous infection control practices and judicious selection and use of antibiotics works to reduce the selection and spread of resistant bugs.

“Hygienic food preparation and proper cooking of animal products will usually remove the risk of transfer of bacterial resistance from food animals to people.

“Australia has one of the most stringent systems for registering antimicrobials for use in animals in the world. Antibiotics important in human medicine are not registered for use in animals and the National Residue Survey monitors food products to ensure that residues are not present in foods and to detect incorrect use of all chemicals in food animals.

“Another way that antibiotic use in animals could lead to antibiotic-resistant infections in humans is through contact with treated animals.

“Farm workers and owners of pets being treated with antibiotics need to pay particular attention to hygiene during and after handling treated animals. Similarly our pets and other animals can acquire resistant bugs from humans, again emphasising the need for hand washing and other hygienic measures around all animals.

“An important problem in combating resistance is the lack of reliable data. If we don’t know how big the problem is we cannot tackle it effectively. There is no uniform system for monitoring antimicrobial resistance in Australia and no central data holding facility for use of medicines in human or animal health. More government funding in this area is urgently needed to help monitor and combat increasing antimicrobial resistance.”

Smyth said that veterinarians take their obligation to minimise the chances of the emergence of resistant microbes very seriously.

“Certain antibiotics aren’t used at all in food animals in Australia, while others are only used under very strict guidelines.

“Close collaboration is essential. We need veterinary and human health professionals to work together with governments to help combat this urgent problem.” Smyth said.

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