Link: September 15, 2002.
This is an extract from a longer article - click the link above for more
Small animal veterinarians who think that, unlike their food animal counterparts, they don't have to worry about losing access to certain antimicrobials may want to think again. Antimicrobial use by small animal veterinarians may come under scrutiny by governmental agencies and the public, according to Dr. Katrina Mealey, who addressed AVMA Annual Convention attendees on July 13.
A recent New England Journal of Medicine editorial recommended banning the use of fluoroquinolones and third-generation cyclosporins in all animals, not just food animals, she reminded the audience. And new studies suggesting that resistant bacterial infections from pets may pose a threat to people have generated interest in the press.
"Our goal is to make sure we dot our i's and cross our t's and don't do anything wrong in terms of antibiotic usage so that when these articles come out, we cannot be blamed for (anything)," said Dr. Mealey, who is an assistant professor at Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine.
The attention that antimicrobial resistance has sparked in the scientific and popular press is well deserved. While the United States churns out 50 million pounds of antimicrobials each year, at least one form of microbial resistance has been described for every antimicrobial that's on the market.
People have blamed antimicrobial resistance problems on growing international travel, increased "pill popping" by people, and the use of the drugs in food animals. But while legislators have responded by limiting the use of antimicrobials in food animals, there has been little scrutiny of their use in small animal practice. This may soon change.
Several new studies have reported associations between resistant bacterial infections in people and exposure to dogs and cats. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported three outbreaks—in Idaho, Washington, and Minnesota—in which pet owners, animal health workers, and contacts of these individuals became infected with multidrug-resistant Salmonella typhimurium. In each outbreak, isolates from dogs and cats were identical to those from humans, and all had a high degree of resistance.
Dr. Mealey noted that evidence did not prove whether humans gave the strains to animals, animals gave them to humans, or animals and humans both got them from the environment, but to some individuals, this didn't appear to matter.
In the discussion session of the CDC article, it was stated that the use of antimicrobial agents in veterinary facilities may have contributed to transmission of multidrug-resistant Salmonella.
"This is an article by the CDC, so people listen to it," she said. "The perception is that antibiotic use in that hospital is what contributed to the multidrug resistance in this particular Salmonella species."