AVMA launches inaugural report describing antimicrobial resistance in animals

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Report will be a key resource for veterinarians in the fight to protect animal, human and environmental health against threat of antimicrobial resistance

(SCHAUMBURG, Illinois) August 25, 2020—Antimicrobial resistance is a growing risk with direct impacts on the health of animals and the potential to affect human health. Today, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the leading voice of the veterinary profession, released Antimicrobial Resistant Pathogens Affecting Animal Health in the United States, the newest addition to the arsenal of interdisciplinary resources dedicated to combating the threat of antimicrobial resistance. It is the first report describing the current status of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria affecting various animal species in the United States.

Antimicrobial resistance – when antimicrobial drugs, including antibiotics, antivirals and others, are no longer effective at treating the bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms that they were developed for – presents a growing challenge for veterinarians and is a global One Health issue. One Health is an approach that recognizes the health of animals, people and the environment is closely connected. Slowing and limiting the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance requires widespread engagement from across the One Health spectrum, especially among leaders in veterinary medicine, animal owners and public health.

“Veterinarians are at the forefront of fighting antimicrobial resistance in animals and have a critical role to play in the overall health of animals, humans and the environment,” said Dr. Douglas Kratt, AVMA president. “The AVMA is committed to the judicious therapeutic use of antimicrobials and promoting antimicrobial stewardship in veterinary practices. This report is a snapshot of the current landscape and we will continue to monitor for trends in antimicrobial resistance to ensure that veterinarians have the tools they need to make the best stewardship decisions for their patients.”

The report was developed over the last year and a half by the AVMA Committee on Antimicrobials with the assistance of many species experts as volunteers – a group of nearly 50 microbiologists, epidemiologists and species experts. It examines bacteria of concern and describes actions that veterinarians and their teams, producers, breeders and animal owners, can take to slow and limit the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance.

The report includes easy-to-review summaries of antimicrobial resistant bacteria affecting dogs and cats, horses, cattle, swine, sheep and goats, chickens and turkeys, and fish and shrimp. The report also includes resistance profiles for each of the bacteria identified in the report.

“This report is a practical reference guide for veterinarians to use when making therapeutic decisions for their patients,” said Dr. Paul Plummer, one of the lead authors of the report. “We hope that the expertise of the technical committees that were consulted in the creation of this report helps bring greater understanding of current status of antimicrobial resistant bacteria in animals and helps practitioners make more appropriate treatment decisions.”

“On behalf of the AVMA, I express our sincere thanks to all of the subject-matter experts who contributed to this vital report,” Dr. Kratt said.

For additional resources and information about the AVMA’s policies on antimicrobial use and resistance, please visit https://www.avma.org/antimicrobial-use-and-resistance-avma-policies.

About the AVMA

Serving more than 105,000 member veterinarians, the AVMA is the nation's leading representative of the veterinary profession, dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of animals, humans and the environment. Founded in 1863 and with members in every U.S. state and territory and more than 60 countries, the AVMA is one of the largest veterinary medical organizations in the world. Informed by our members' unique scientific training and clinical knowledge, the AVMA supports the crucial work of veterinarians and advocates for policies that advance the practice of veterinary medicine and improve animal and human health.