Antimicrobial resistance is a growing global concern, and the peak body forveterinarians, the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) says that everyone,including pet owners, has a role to play in fighting antimicrobial resistance.

World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (18-24 November) is an initiative of theWorld Health Organisation (WHO), the World Organisation for Animal Health(OIE), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).The aim is to raise awareness about responsible use of antibiotics in humanhealth and veterinary medicine.

President of the AVA, Dr Warwick Vale, said that the overuse of antibiotics inpeople and animals across the globe has led to a worldwide spread of resistantbugs, which is making infections harder to treat with existing antibiotics. Tocurb this trend, it’s important for everyone to understand their role infighting antibiotic resistance.

“Fortunately, in Australia, we have judicious-use guidelines in place thatensure we are not over-prescribing antibiotics in animals; in fact, antibioticuse in animals in Australia is extremely low compared to most of the rest ofthe world.

“While this is certainly positive, we need to ensure we are continuallyimproving on our antibiotic use in animals and pets, which is why pet ownersmust be fully informed regarding ways they can help to fight antimicrobialresistance.

“Pet owners should only give their pet antibiotics when prescribed by aveterinarian. Never use antibiotics from another pet, yourself or those leftover from another condition on your pet.

“As is the case in human health, not every illness requires antibiotics, sodon’t expect your veterinarian to recommend antibiotics every time your petgets sick. But please always feel free to discuss the role of antibiotics withyour vet” Dr Vale said.

Dr Vale says that, as antibiotics are mainly used when an animal becomes sick,infection prevention and control is a key component in the fight againstantimicrobial resistance.

“Providing your pet with good nutrition, exercise, regular worming andvaccinations are key to preventing illness and keeping your pet healthy.Yearly check-ups with your veterinarian are also an important part ofpreventive healthcare. Also, when handling your pet, always follow simplehygiene measures such as washing your hands to reduce the risk of bacteriatransferring between you and your pet,” Dr Vale said.

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