The Australian Veterinary Association contributes to the fight against antimicrobial resistance

18 Nov 2021

Australian veterinarians are actively involved in fighting antimicrobial resistance (AMR) by promoting antimicrobial stewardship, developing and implementing antibiotic prescribing guidelines, and by spreading awareness about the appropriate use of antimicrobial medications such as antibiotics.

Antimicrobial resistance refers to the ability of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and parasites to stop antimicrobial medications, such as antibiotics, from working to effectively control the microorganism.

The theme for World Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2021, November 18 to 24, is ‘Spread Awareness, Stop Resistance’. Throughout AMR week, the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is highlighting the importance of the fight against antimicrobial resistance.

“Antimicrobial resistance is one of the top ten global issues identified as a threat to human health, and the veterinary profession is working alongside human health professionals to address the issue,” said Dr Melanie Latter, the AVA’s National Manager, Policy and Veterinary Science. “Australian veterinarians are trained and experienced in the principles of judicious antimicrobial use, and as a result, Australian animals have low levels of antibiotic resistance in their bacterial fauna, compared to other countries.”

“Veterinarians rely on antibiotics to treat animals and prevent suffering in pets, livestock and other animals. When microorganisms become resistant, simple infections can become difficult to treat. It is critical that veterinary professionals are able to retain access to the essential antimicrobial medications they need, and that we all work to prevent antimicrobial resistance,” said Dr Latter

“Every day across Australia, veterinarians practice antimicrobial stewardship through their work with pet owners and livestock producers to prevent illness and disease in animals by ensuring best practice infection management, and providing nutritious diets, vaccinations, good husbandry and biosecurity, and stress-free environments – all to ensure optimal animal health and welfare.”

The AVA is an active participant in national One Health initiatives, such as the implementation of Australia’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy. Since 2017, the AVA has collaborated with Animal Medicines Australia to develop best-practice prescribing guidelines for a number of species.

“The AVA assembled world-class expert authors to assist in the development of these prescribing guidelines, demonstrating our antimicrobial stewardship leadership, as we work to protect access to antibiotics into the future for our profession,” said Dr Latter.

“We all have a part to play in preventing antimicrobial resistance and ensuring that antimicrobial medications are not misused. Antimicrobials should only be used as directed by your veterinarian, and any unused medications should be returned to the veterinary practice. Together, everybody can help stop antimicrobial resistance,” said Dr Latter.

The AVA is committed to supporting global efforts to combat AMR, and there are many valuable AMR resources available on the AVA’s website.

The AMR Vet Collective has also compiled a comprehensive online resource for veterinarians which provides in-depth antimicrobial stewardship information, along with an antimicrobial stewardship online training course.