Following Government forecasts on antimicrobial resistance (AMR), veterinary surgeons are being urged to use antibiotics responsibly and maintain high standards of hygiene.
The risk register document states: “High numbers of deaths could also be expected from other forms of AMR infection.”
The Bella Moss Foundation, a charity that promotes prudent antimicrobial use and hygiene in human and veterinary medicine, said vigilance was needed.
Two of its clinical advisors have reiterated calls for good hygiene and sensible use of antibiotics. Tim Nuttall, head of dermatology at the University of Edinburgh Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, said there was genuine concern about returning to a pre-antibiotic era.
“While new drugs are welcome, the long-term solution involves better antimicrobial stewardship,” Dr Nuttall said.
“This will mean the public putting less pressure on clinicians for antibiotics for themselves or their animals, better diagnosis and treatment by clinicians, first-class standards of hygiene and infection control, and better ways of managing infections without using antibiotics – many cases can be managed by addressing the primary disease and using antiseptics.”
David Lloyd, chairman of veterinary dermatology at the Royal Veterinary College, shared the concern. “The great majority of bacterial infections are still caused by organisms sensitive to existing antibiotics. If we use these drugs wisely, levels of resistance are likely to decline, but there is an urgent need in both human and veterinary fields to promote the adoption of best practice in the maintenance of hygiene and the prudent use of antibacterial drugs.”
He added bacteria would likely develop resistance to new drugs if they were used unwisely. “We should therefore also concentrate on measures that reduce our dependence on antibacterial drugs,” he said.