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Antimicrobial resistance a significant global challenge

Veterinarians and animal owners can help New Zealand play its part in meeting the challenge of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), one of the biggest global threats to human and animal health.

The World Health Organisation is raising awareness of AMR, which it regards as significant globally, through World Antibiotic Awareness Week (18-24 November).

Antibiotics are essential for treating bacterial infections in humans and animals. They can be rendered ineffective if bacteria become resistant to them. This is more likely if antibiotics are used inappropriately, which could result in human and animal health issues.

"The NZVA has set an ambitious goal that by 2030 New Zealand Inc will not need antibiotics for the maintenance of animal health and wellness," says NZVA Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Helen Beattie.

"If we are to achieve this goal, veterinarians and pet owners need to work together," she says.

Dr Beattie says one of the best things pet owners can do to reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance is through providing good pet nutrition, care and the appropriate vaccinations.

"Animal owners should talk to their veterinarian about how good pet care helps keep pets healthy and reduces disease risk."

Dr Beattie says animal owners and veterinarians have a joint responsibility to ensure treatments for companion animals are effective. "If you have to administer antibiotic treatments for your pet, make sure you follow all of the instructions your veterinarian provides."

She says just like a human doctor, a veterinarian will only authorise antibiotics when they are needed. "Antibiotics don’t cure viral infections like the common cold, or snuffles in your cat."

Dr Beattie says the NZVA provides judicious use guidelines for veterinarians that outline principals of antibiotic use, routine considerations, drug selection, and dosage strategy.

The NZVA also makes available species-specific guidelines that include guidance on which drugs should be used under specific clinical circumstances.

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