This week is Antibiotic Awareness Week.
Antibiotics are really important drugs which save many lives but they need to be used appropriately to keep working. Antibiotic resistance is already starting to cause a lot of problems and has the potential to make currently treatable infections untreatable.
The BSAVA uses the PROTECT ME acronym to encourage responsible antibiotic use:
P – Prescribe only when necessary (not for viral infections or bacterial diseases that will usually self-resolve)
R – Reduce prophylaxis (use of antibiotics to prevent rather than treat infections)
O – Offer other options (e.g. hygiene techniques and antiseptics where appropriate)
T – Treat effectively (use the right antibiotic at the right dose for the right time)
E – Employ narrow spectrum (use medications that are more targeted to the bacteria involved)
C – Culture appropriately (collect samples before starting medication)
T – Tailor your practice policy (have a policy to standardise antibiotic selection)
M – Monitor (keep an eye on what is happening with antibiotic use and any resistance developing)
E – Educate others
It is everybody’s responsibility to make sure that we use antibiotics appropriately. Vets need to stop prescribing them for mild infections and owners need to not put pressure on their vets to prescribe medication ‘just in case’. The same applies to doctors and patients.
Antibiotics are not normally needed for:
- acute vomiting and/or diarrhoea (even diarrhoea with blood if the animal is otherwise well)
- cats with cystitis
- dogs with kennel cough
- yeasty skin conditions