Continuing the fight against one of the world's wicked problems

The Australian Veterinary Association has been actively involved in fighting the emergence of antimicrobial resistance for more than 30 years, with codes of practice, policies on appropriate use of these drugs, education and guidelines.

The AVA is currently working on new antibiotic prescribing guidelines for production animals and equines.  The prescribing guidelines for pigs will be the first to be produced.

The AVA’s pilot trial of an antimicrobial stewardship program with companion animal practices in Canberra has over 70 veterinarians in 15 practices participating. This trial looks at antibiotic prescribing behaviour over a 12-month period, assessing change in response to online stewardship training and information sessions.  Results will be analysed and published at the end of the trial.

At the AVA National Conference this year Dr Mark Schipp, Australia’s Chief Veterinary Officer gave the opening plenary on antimicrobial resistance strategies and plans. View the video online .

This year the AVA contributed to and participated in the Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Summit, hosted by the Australasian Society for Infectious Disease and the Australian Society of Antimicrobials. The summit brought together an impressive collection of experts in human and animal health. The Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy and Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) Dr Mark Schipp were both key speakers. Through the Summit, key priorities for action were identified including:

  • making national human and animal prescribing guidelines freely available in all GP and veterinary clinics and linked to accreditation
  • quality-based audit and feedback of appropriateness of antimicrobial use in human and animal health.
  • human and animal AMR surveillance to be integrated under a single surveillance authority and linked to an effective implementation arm.

What can each veterinarian do?

  • only prescribe and dispense antibiotics when they are needed according to current evidence-based guidelines.
  • use diagnostics (culture and sensitivity) to make informed treatment decisions (when possible)
  • wash your hands between patients, make sure your instruments and environment are clean
  • talk to your clients about how to give antibiotics correctly, antibiotic resistance and the dangers of misuse
  • talk to patients about preventing infections (e.g. vaccination and hand washing)
  • become informed about AMR.

What can each veterinary practice manager do?

  • provide resources to tackle antibiotic resistance (e.g. prescribing guidelines)
  • implement stewardship programmes to optimise antibiotic use and monitor prescribing and resistance patterns in your practice
  • prevent infections by ensuring staff clean their hands, instruments and environment
  • develop practice protocols and policies for handling and treating patients who have been identified as having multi-resistant bacteria
  • encourage employees to become more educated about AMR.

Keep an eye out for the next edition of Vet Voice, the AVA’ digital newsletter, where as part of the World Antibiotic Awareness Week, 13-19 November 2017 the AVA will be providing access to an online training module to refresh your knowledge about antibiotic use. It will take around 30-40 minutes to complete.  Also featured in the article will be an overview and links to the many resources available for veterinarians to help you to continue the fight against antimicrobial resistance in your own practice.

Debbie Neutze
Policy Manager

This article appeared in the November 2017 issue of the Australian Veterinary Journal

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