Antimicrobial Awareness Week

Antibiotics have had an incredibly positive impact on human and animal healthcare. Their use enables clinicians to cure previously untreatable conditions. However, there are increasing numbers of bacteria becoming resistant to all antibiotics. Infections caused by these ‘super-bugs’ can be fatal as previously used treatments no longer work.

Antimicrobial Awareness Week (supported by the World Health Organisation) aims to educate clinicians, policymakers, and the public about using antibiotics responsibly to prevent future ‘super-bug’ infections from developing.

Here are some frequently asked questions about antibiotics:

How can we protect the ability of antibiotics to kill bacteria?

Bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics are called mutant strains. In the absence of competition from antibiotic-susceptible bacteria, mutant strains multiply in large numbers causing serious illness in their host (us humans or our pets). Using antibiotics ‘just in case’ allows more mutant strains to develop which are impossible to treat. We only prescribe antibiotics when we know for certain your pet needs them.

My vet has always prescribed antibiotics for the same condition in the past?

As in human medicine, the veterinary profession is continually learning and improving treatment protocols. In particular, we have an increased understanding of which conditions get better without treatment (are self-limiting) and don’t require antibiotics. An example of this is diarrhoea; most animals fully recover without antibiotics.

If my vet doesn’t prescribe antibiotics, what happens if things get worse?

Following any consultation, we will recommend treatment that may or may not include medication. We will also explain how to monitor your pet and when to expect them to get better. If your pet is not getting better as expected, we will examine your pet again to assess what further tests or treatment they need.

Rest assured, if your pet needs antibiotics, we will prescribe them and then monitor your pet’s response to the treatment. Please call us if you have any questions about your pet’s medication.

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