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Vets Call for Careful Use of Antibiotics

14 November 2014
Australian Veterinary Association

AUSTRALIA - The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is using Australian Antibiotic Awareness Week to promote responsible use in animals to prevent the emergence of untreatable diseases.

AVA spokesperson, Dr Stephen Page said that vets take their obligation to minimise the chances of the emergence of resistant superbugs very seriously.

“While resistance mainly originates from antibiotic use in humans, there’s evidence that the use of antibiotics in food-producing animals also contributes to the problem.

“Proper care of animals is critical to their health and welfare and that can include providing antibiotics when they’re needed. Fortunately, there are stringent systems in place in Australia for registering antimicrobials for use in food animals, particularly those antimicrobials important to human health.

“Certain antibiotics aren’t used at all in food animals in Australia, while others are used under very strict guidelines.

“We’re also pleased to see many agricultural industries have changed management practices so they can reduce antibiotic use. But there will always be some risk of infection and a need to use antibiotics at those times,” he said.

The AVA says there are precautions that can be taken to reduce the spread of resistant bugs. These include:

  • Hygienic food preparation. Australia has good food safety standards in place for the processing of raw food products but we need to ensure safe food preparation from retail purchase to plate, including proper cooking of animal products, to minimise the risk of transfer of bacterial resistance from food to people.
  • Avoiding contact with treated animals. Another way that antibiotic use in animals could lead to antibiotic resistant infections in humans is through contact with treated animals. So farm workers and owners of animals being treated with antibiotics need to pay particular attention to hygiene during and after handling treated animals.

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