The first ever campaign on antibiotic use was initiated in Europe in order to raise awareness and understanding of antibiotic resistance. The campaign was called EAAD (European Antibiotic Awareness Day) and since its birth in 2008, it has successfully functioned as a platform supporting national campaigns. After similar approaches popped-out in many other world regions, WAAW (World Antibiotic Awareness Week) was launched by the WHO (World Health Organization) back in 2015. The sole purpose was to encourage action to stop the spread of AMR (Antimicrobial Resistance) by reducing the antibiotic use and encouraging proper practice among veterinarians, health workers, farmers, food producers etc. What the WHO is trying to achieve is teach the public that antibiotics are an irreplaceable part of modern medicine and a necessary, non-renewable resource.
The theme named ‘Antibiotics: Handle with Care’ sends a message that antibiotics should be used to treat bacterial infections when there is a proof of one when they are prescribed by a healthcare professional, and advisable not to be shared with other people while being taken through the full course of the treatment.
Antibiotic (Antimicrobial) Resistance
When microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, parasites, viruses) are being exposed to antimicrobial drugs, they sometimes develop resistance and turn into so-called ‘superbugs’. When they turn to almost indestructible, the infections they cause persist in the body causing various pathological changes for longer periods of time because common medicines are ineffective for treatment. This causes the costs of health care and intensive care to go sky-high, and the mortality rate due to infectious diseases to rise. As a natural genetic process, antimicrobial resistance develops as time passes, but the improper use of antibiotics and other antimicrobials is accelerating the process.
Antimicrobial resistance isn’t a myth, but a serious threat to the global public health and the effective treatment of many infectious diseases. With the development of AMR, not only the effectiveness of treating infectious diseases is being compromised, but also the successful accomplishment of surgical procedures, chemotherapies and more.
What can veterinarians do?
Veterinary medicine professionals can contribute to the global cause by taking some preventative measures. These include practicing good hygiene and teaching owners and farmers about the importance of hygiene, vaccinating healthy animals and quarantining sick ones, and ensuring they work in a clean and disease-free environment with clean and sterilized instruments. The only time they should prescribe antibiotics is after making an accurate diagnosis and when it’s extremely necessary. Trial antibiotic treatment must be avoided at all costs and owners must be educated about antimicrobial resistance.
Facts on antimicrobial resistance
- Not just overuse, but also underuse and misuse of antimicrobial agents accelerate the process of antibiotic resistance
- Pneumonia, tuberculosis, salmonellosis, and gonorrhea are becoming harder and harder to treat due to the poor effectiveness of common antibiotics
- One of the biggest sources of AMR is animal husbandry where antibiotics are used as a prevention for infectious diseases and as growth-promoters
- A little or no research has been done regarding new antibiotics, antiviral drugs and vaccines in the past few years
- Odilorhabdins are a brand-new class of antibiotics being developed, and scientists hope they will prove to be effective against resistant bacteria
If you liked this article, read “Use of antibiotics in veterinary medicine” on our blog.