Ensuring animal health professionals understand their critical role in the fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the driving force behind a new set of recommendations, published jointly by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP).
The 2022 AAFP/AAHA Antimicrobial Stewardship Guidelines present evidence-led strategies veterinary teams can use in choosing appropriate antimicrobial therapy to best serve their patients and minimize the development of AMR, AAHA reports. The resource offers a practical approach for veterinary teams, which emphasizes making decisions that optimize patient outcome and ensure antibiotics are used only when necessary to treat infections.
“This effort is critical to ensure we continue to have drugs that are effective against bacterial infections,” says the guide’s coauthor and task force chair, Erin Frey, DVM, MPH, DACVPM. “Bacterial pathogens will always find ways to resist antibiotics, but overuse of antibiotics or using them when it’s not necessary expedites this process, ultimately leaving us with bacteria that are impervious to treatment. The result is a scenario in which we don’t have the tools to treat life-threatening bacterial infections because the available antibiotics are no longer effective.”
The top tenets of the guidelines include:
- Practice good preventive medicine, monitor health routinely, and keep vaccinations updated
- Teach clients about good animal care practices and hygiene
- Use other alternatives to oral antibiotics (i.e. bathing, sprays, ointments)
- Consider “watchful waiting” to observe whether a condition truly needs antibiotics or if patients can clear it on their own
- Use diagnostic testing to determine if an infection is bacterial and would respond to antibiotics
Additionally, client education about preventive care is an important element in these guidelines, says AAFP CEO, Heather O’Steen.
“The entire veterinary team as well as clients should be involved in this effort,” she adds. “These guidelines will support our collective responsibility to make good decisions about antimicrobial use.”
AMR due to antibiotic overuse and misuse is a growing threat to human and animal health, the groups report. Recognizing the role veterinary professionals play can help keep this danger at bay.
“Antimicrobial stewardship is one of the most important public health issues facing the profession,” says AAHA chief medical officer, Jessica Vogelsang, DVM. “Veterinary teams play a critical role in protecting the health and welfare of people and pets, so we are pleased to present tools to simplify that journey.”
To access the resource, click here.