Vets fear they could lose ability to treat infections due to antibiotic resistance - Veterinary Practice
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Vets fear they could lose ability to treat infections due to antibiotic resistance

A new survey has revealed that almost 90 percent of UK vets are concerned about losing the ability to treat infections in animals as a result of antimicrobial resistance

British Veterinary Association (BVA) logo

These new figures, released during World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (18 to 24 November), are from the British Veterinary Association’s (BVA) latest Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey.

Other concerns included potential enforced restriction on veterinary use of antimicrobials in the future (reported by 84 percent of vets) or the inability to control infections following surgery (75 percent).

Only a third (35 percent) of vets (overall) felt clients were aware of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Vets working in small animal practice reported more often (68 percent) that their clients were not aware of the issue than those who work with large animals, like cattle or horses (34 percent).

These findings come in a month when the latest government data showed that sales of antibiotics for use in food-producing animals in the UK has reduced by 59 percent since 2014, as a result of collaborative efforts by vets, farmers and industry, making the country one of the lowest prescribers of the drugs in Europe.

Sharp increase in vets reporting AMR concerns about the cascade

Figures also show a sharp increase in vets reporting concerns over antimicrobial resistance when following the cascade to make prescribing decisions.

Eighty-six per cent of vets across the UK felt that using the cascade procedure had resulted in antimicrobial prescribing decisions which did not support the principles of responsible prescribing at least once.

Over half of vets in clinical practice (58 percent) reported that this happened often or sometimes. This is a significant increase compared to February 2018, when these figures were just 60 percent and 43 percent, respectively.

Vets who treat non-traditional companion animals (NTCAs) were most likely to report this, with more than nine in ten (94 percent) indicating they had experienced AMR concerns with the cascade at least once.

The cascade is a risk-based decision tree that allows veterinary surgeons to treat an animal with an alternative if there is no UK-authorised veterinary medicinal product (VMP) available for a particular condition.

The survey findings come as almost nine in 10 vets say they are worried about their inability to treat infections in animals as a result of AMR.

BVA president Anna Judson called on all animal owners and vets to continue to work collaboratively to tackle the serious global threat of antimicrobial resistance.

“Antibiotics are a vital tool in our ability to treat diseases in both people and animals effectively, but vets, like their counterparts in human medicine, are worried about excessive and improper use leading to some bacteria no longer responding,” she said.

“We’ve made huge progress in refining and reducing antimicrobial use in farm animals in the UK, but we can do more.”

BVA is also encouraging pet owners to take a look at the “Are you antibiotic aware?” poster, developed collaboratively by human and animal health organisations, for more advice on how to use antibiotics responsibly.

BVA urges vets in clinical practice to take a look at the seven-point-plan poster for advice on how to use antimicrobials responsibly.

More information on the Antibiotic Amnesty campaign can be found on the BVA website.

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