Note: This statement has been adopted jointly by the AVMA, Federation of Veterinarians of Europe, and Canadian Veterinary Medical Association.
Responsible and judicious use of antimicrobials is in the best interests of both animal health and human health. Approaches to preserve antimicrobial efficacy must be well coordinated and encompass everyone involved in the use of antimicrobials, including physicians, veterinarians, individual patients, animal caretakers, and producers.
There is a need to preserve both efficacy and availability of antimicrobials for therapeutic use by veterinarians. Therapeutic uses of antimicrobials are essential for treatment, control, and prevention of infectious diseases to maintain animal health and welfare as well as ensure human food safety. Veterinarians must be involved in efforts to preserve antimicrobial therapies in animals. First, the use of other efficacious scientifically proven therapeutic options should be considered prior to initiating antimicrobial therapy. This includes preventive strategies, such as appropriate husbandry and hygiene, routine health monitoring, and immunization.
Once a determination is made that use of antimicrobials is indicated, the veterinarian must optimize therapeutic efficacy and minimize resistance to antimicrobials to protect public and animal health by:
- utilizing diagnostic results including culture and sensitivity to aid in the selection of antimicrobials;
- ensuring appropriate duration of treatment to achieve the desired clinical response and prevent recurrence;
- restricting therapeutic antimicrobial treatment to ill or at risk animals, treating the fewest animals indicated.
Continued availability of all classes of safe, effective antimicrobials for veterinary medicine is a critical component for a safe food supply and optimal animal health and welfare. To that end:
- Regulatory proposals and actions should consider the overall microbial ecology and be specific, transparent, and based on scientific risk analysis.
- Antimicrobial resistance risk analyses should evaluate the risks and benefits to animal health and welfare in addition to the risks and benefits to human health.
- In the context of One Health, physicians and veterinarians must work collaboratively to ensure responsible and judicious use of antimicrobials.
- Every time a physician or veterinarian initiates antimicrobial therapy is an opportunity to educate the patient/client on proper administration and compliance with treatment regimes.
- Veterinarians must support research for the development of methods to prevent and treat microbial infections and reduce our dependence on antimicrobials.
Guidelines for Judicious Therapeutic Use of Antimicrobials