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Veterinarians Work to Minimise Antimicrobial Resistance

Media release 1 May 2014

Veterinarians Work to Minimise Antimicrobial Resistance

“The threat of antimicrobial resistance is recognised as one of the greatest risks to human and animal health and is a high priority for the veterinary profession, says Dr Steve Merchant, the President of The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA).

“After more than 70 years since the first use of penicillin in human medicine there are a number of bacteria in circulation across the world that are resistant to one or more antimicrobials,” says Steve Merchant.

“Therefore the NZVA advises responsible use of antimicrobials (the general term that covers anti-bacterials (commonly known as antibiotics), anti-virals, anti-fungals and anti-protozoals).

“Animal and human health have always been interlinked, and bacteria resistant to drug therapy can be passed from animals to humans, and vice versa. Therefore veterinarians and human health physicians have an obligation to continue to work together on this key issue.”

The use of antimicrobials in veterinary practice has assisted in ensuring the health of livestock and companion animals, and as a result contributed to New Zealand’s favourable animal health status. Antimicrobial use is part of a suite of treatments ensuring the safe production of meat, milk and other animal products for human consumption. Antimicrobial use is also important to ensure the welfare of animals.

Antimicrobial usage should always be part of, and not a replacement for, an integrated animal disease control programme. Such a programme is likely to involve such measures as hygiene and disinfection procedures, biosecurity measures, management alterations, changes in stocking rates, and vaccination. This applies to both companion and farm animals.

“Just as in human health, consumer demand for antimicrobials to treat animal disease must be balanced by client/consumer education (pet owners, farmers, farm managers), to protect against poor or ineffective use which can allow resistance to develop,” says Dr Merchant.

NZVA appeals to all New Zealand communities to work together with veterinarians to ensure all antimicrobials are used wisely.

As part of the NZVA’s education programme the wise use of antimicrobials will be a key focus at NZVA’s 2014 conference, to be held 16-20 June 2014 at the Claudelands Events Centre, Hamilton.

Keynote speakers include Dr Stephen Page, who will focus on “Antimicrobial Resistance: The Big Picture” when addressing NZVA conference attendees from the veterinary industry on 16 June.

Dr Kate Hill and Dr Andy Millar will also present local antimicrobial awareness issues at the NZVA conference. Dr Hill specialises in companion animals, while Dr Millar’s focus is large animals.

Dr Steve Merchant says the profession welcomes the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s report, released 30 April 2014 as a useful contribution to a critical debate – the outcome of which will have ongoing significant implications for both human and animal health and welfare in the future,

“Veterinarians will continue to play a dominant role here, supported by industry and regulators to ensure consistent messages are delivered to consumers. New Zealand veterinarians recognise the critical importance of responsible use of these medicines to ensure their continued effectiveness.”


For useful answers to questions about antimicrobials, please use this link to the NZVA website

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