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Global vet organizations issue joint statement on antimicrobial resistance

Veterinary organizations in North America and Europe team up to combat antimicrobial resistance while ensuring continued availability of medications essential for human and animal health.

The American Veterinary Medical Assn. (AVMA), the Canadian Veterinary Medical Assn. (CVMA) and the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) issued a "Joint Statement on Continuous Monitoring of Antimicrobial Use & Antimicrobial Resistance" on Dec. 6 that describes broad steps and strategies veterinarians around the world can take to preserve the effectiveness and availability of antimicrobial drugs while safeguarding animal, public and environmental health.

"Antimicrobial resistance doesn’t recognize borders, so efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance need to cross borders as well," AVMA president Dr. John de Jong said. "This joint statement is an important step in recognizing ways we can work together to prevent resistance and ensure that antimicrobials continue to be used judiciously in animals."

"As veterinarians, we oversee the appropriate and responsible use of antimicrobials in animals, thereby helping minimize the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance," CVMA president Dr. Terri Chotowetz added. "By working together, we are demonstrating our professional responsibility in supporting the overarching international strategy on antimicrobial resistance and use."

According to the announcement, the statement includes the following recommendations:

* All countries shall have a robust regulatory system in place in respect to the authorization and manufacture of human and veterinary medicinal products, including antimicrobials. In addition, a legislative system shall be in place to regulate the distribution and sales, including internet sales, of these medicinal products.

* Illegal manufacture, distribution or sales of medicines shall be prosecuted.

* Medically or critically important antimicrobials, as defined by the relevant national health authority -- or, in its absence, the World Health Organization -- shall be administered to animals only with the oversight, in accordance with national legislation, of a licensed veterinarian.

* In order to evaluate the effectiveness of these actions, a robust global network of surveillance and monitoring systems for antimicrobial use and resistance development shall be established. Antimicrobial use shall be monitored both in the human and animal health sectors and any other sector in which antimicrobials are used. The levels of antimicrobial resistance shall be monitored in people, animals, food products and the environment.

* Easily available, effective, rapid and standardized diagnostic tests shall be available in order to carry out susceptibility testing. Results of these tests shall be made available to facilitate evidence-based decisions about antimicrobials. Development of national or regional-level databases for collecting and sharing susceptibility data and metadata is encouraged. The use of modern techniques such as genomics, which trace the origin and circulation of bacterial strains, should be promoted as appropriate in accordance with available resources.

* Sufficient funding shall be available for further research and development of rapid and affordable diagnostic tests.

* In order to establish a truly One Health system and to be able to compare what is happening in the different sectors, harmonized standards for measuring, evaluating and interpreting data on antimicrobial use and resistance need to be developed. AVMA, CVMA and FVE shall support the work of the World Organization for Animal Health and European, Canadian and American agencies in this area.

* Veterinarians must retain access to effective antimicrobials for therapeutic purposes for animals suffering from a bacterial disease in order to safeguard animal health and welfare and public health; therefore, antimicrobials must not be unilaterally limited for use in humans only.

* Record-keeping at the patient or practice level is essential for the evaluation of the success and, where necessary, modification of antimicrobial treatments. In addition to the evaluation of individual cases, there is also a need to monitor the overall use of antimicrobials in animals, both in food-producing animals as well as companion animals.

* The collection of significant and informative data is essential to enhance the responsible use of antimicrobials and control misuse and minimize potential resistance development.

* AVMA, CVMA and FVE shall collaborate in promoting responsible use of antimicrobials in animal production and animal care in all countries, in particular in the developing world.

The three organizations also have additional resources available on their respective websites:

AVMA: Antimicrobial Use and Antimicrobial Resistance.

CVMA: Veterinary Oversight of Antimicrobial Use in Animals in Canada.

FVE: Information on Antimicrobial Resistance.

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