Since their introduction, antimicrobials have revolutionized man’s approach to treatment, control and prevention of human and animal infectious diseases. The modern antibiotic era markedly improved survival rates and longevity as catastrophic disease outbreaks were controlled and previously fatal infections became clinically manageable. Overall, these changes greatly improved the quality of human life and animal welfare.
However, the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance has become as a major problem. This global phenomenon has raised the alarming possibility of subsequent generations returning to the pre-antibiotic era when common infections were often fatal due to the lack of effective treatments. Medical history and research has shown that the prevalence of resistant bacteria and resistant genes increase in response to the selective pressure created by the use of antibiotics. Evidence is mounting that much of the problem is rooted in the inappropriate and excessive use of antimicrobials, and that one of the most effective counter measures is to practice prudent and judicious antimicrobial usage. To achieve this societal change, we must empower health care professionals with the resources and information they need to facilitate sound decisions pertaining to antimicrobial usage.
The worldwide animal industry is estimated to use more tons of antibiotics than does human medicine. For the growing antimicrobial resistance problem to be effectively contained or reversed, responsible antimicrobial use in the human medical community must be accompanied by a corresponding effort among veterinarians and others in the food animal and companion animal industries. Veterinarians should be leaders in the appropriate use of antimicrobial agents for their patients, and should also understand how the use of antimicrobial agents in animals may affect the health of humans. Veterinarians should also advise their clients regarding the appropriate use of antimicrobial agents purchased over the counter, and should engage in educational activities that acknowledge themselves as the health professionals that are best able to regulate and control the public’s access to antibiotics used for animals. This website examines the emerging problem of antimicrobial resistance in animals and humans, and is intended for use in veterinary courses in microbiology, pharmacology, infectious disease, public health and species-specific veterinary medicine.