World Veterinary Day Recognizes Veterinarians’ Role in Fighting Antimicrobial Resistance

“If bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, we will have lost our most important method of treating illnesses in animals and humans,” said Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) member and public health veterinarian James Wright, DVM, MPVM.

Saturday, April 29, marks World Veterinary Day, a time to celebrate the profession and recognize the positive impact veterinarians have on animal health and welfare as well as on public health. The World Veterinary Association (WVA) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) choose a theme each year and this year have selected “Antimicrobial Resistance—From Awareness to Action,” which emphasizes the important role veterinarians play in regulating and monitoring the use of antimicrobial agents, providing professional advice to animal owners and collaborating with the human health sector.

Antimicrobial drugs have transformed the practice of human and animal medicine with their availability and popular use. Antimicrobial agents treat infections that were once deadly, advancing not only global health but also animal health. These life-saving medications support animal welfare, safety and food security. However, because these drugs have been overused and misused in the human, animal and plant sectors, they are losing effectiveness and facilitating the emergence of antimicrobial resistance.

“If bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, we will have lost our most important method of treating illnesses in animals and humans,” said Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) member and public health veterinarian James Wright, DVM, MPVM, former chairman of the One Health Committee. “Both humans and animals will be somewhat defenseless against bacterial diseases.”

The human-animal relationship is closely linked. Drug-resistant bacteria can spread from animals to humans by human consumption of meat not handled or cooked properly. Humans also can encounter and host drug-resistant bacteria when eating vegetables that were nourished with fertilizer or water containing animal feces and drug-resistant bacteria. For humans, antibacterial resistance could mean additional visits to the doctor and prolonged suffering as well as serious disabilities and even death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Veterinarians and veterinary paraprofessionals help fight antimicrobial resistance by supervising the use of antimicrobial drugs, offering advice to farmers and animal owners and fostering transparent communication with the human health sector. TVMA member Diane Hartman, DVM, Chairman of the One Health Committee, advises animal owners to administer antibiotics as directed for the full course of therapy and not use it to treat viral illnesses….

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