Since their discovery in the mid-1900s (which really wasn’t that long ago in the grand scheme of things), antibiotics have revolutionized human medicine, veterinary medicine and even food production. They save lives and prevent illness, helping to make both people and animals healthier, happier and more efficient at what they do. But if we want our antibiotics to work and continue to provide these amazing benefits for another century (or more!) then we all need to Get Smart About Antibiotics and how and when we use them.
This week (November 16-22) is the 2015 Get Smart About Antibiotics Week, as promoted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The goal is to raise awareness about the threat of antibiotic resistance and the importance of proper antibiotic prescribing and use. It’s part of the CDC’s ongoing “Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work” program, which has components targeting both the public and healthcare professionals. The CDC also has a sister program called “Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work on the Farm” (sometimes just called Get Smart on the Farm”) which they launched over ten years ago in 2004. This program focuses on promoting appropriate antibiotic use in animals and educating veterinarians and veterinary students about how to be good stewards of antibiotics.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has also been working hard on this issue to provide additional guidance and resources to pet owners and veterinarians. They convened a Task Force for Antimicrobial Stewardship in Companion Animal Practice to help develop practice guidelines for small animal vets. They have put together a resources page that includes some new quick-reference materials on antimicrobial do’s and don’ts for dogs and cats, client education posters (like the one pictured), as well as links to use guidelines from the International Society for Companion Animal Infections Diseases (ISCAID) for urinary tract infections and canine superficial bacterial folliculitis, and recommendations from the Federation of European Companion Animal Veterinary Associations (FECAVA).
We ALL have a role to play in preserving the effectiveness of these very important drugs, from patients to pet owners, from physicians to veterinarians, from backyard hobby farmers to large-scale food animal producers. Antibiotic use is changing, so let’s all get smarter about it!