Understanding antimicrobial use is crucial to not only human patient care, but also veterinary care. A critical component of treating animal patients is the use of antimicrobials. When used properly, knowledge of antimicrobial stewardship advances veterinary care and helps manage bacterial infections that take over in different animal species. These bacterial infections can impact animals as well as humans.
The unnecessary use of antimicrobials accelerates the emergence of antimicrobial resistance. Antimicrobial resistance presents the risk of untreated infections, and further, transmission of these bacterial infections. Bacteria is easily transmissible between different species, so antimicrobial resistance can cause harm to both the animal being diagnosed, and to any other animals and humans that are exposed.
Antibiotic stewardship is more than just deciding which antibiotic to use. The process for diagnosing infection is uniquely complicated. Unlike measuring chemical levels in blood, like glucose or cholesterol, sample handling can easily change the results of current infection tests. For example, if a dog has a urinary tract infection, free-catch urine samples can collect a few bacterial cells from outside the ureter, which are then amplified during culturing and lead to a misdiagnosis of the infection. The most economical, convenient, and timely treatment of your pet is greatly dependent on the timeliness and accuracy of the entire testing process.
Knowing where bacterial infections are likely to occur and how to handle samples is also part of stewardship. The AVMA has assembled an extensive collection of documents to help veterinarians through the diagnostic process and determine which antibiotics should be prescribed. The complete list can be found here:
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