A review of recent infectious disease research studies would be incomplete without broaching the topic of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). An editorial column in an equine veterinary journal stresses how important it is for veterinary practitioners to embrace antimicrobial stewardship [Rendle, D.I. and Page, S,W. Antimicrobial resistance in companion animals. Equine Veterinary Journal 2018, vol. 50; pp. 147-152].
The authors stated, “We must assume responsibility for the most efficient and parsimonious use of antimicrobials.”
Part of the recipe for minimizing reliance on antimicrobial agents is to implement preventive and control measures to prevent disease in the first place along with strategies and diagnostic tools (bacterial culture and sensitivity testing, for example) for early recognition of illness.
Another principal element to consider with use of antimicrobials is their effect on the intestinal microbiome. Lately, much light is being shed on the importance of the microbiome to general health and to the immune system of all species.
Rendle and Page further stressed, “The use of Critically Important Antimicrobials in the absence of sound clinical justification in equine practice remains common and is inexcusable when there is clear evidence that their use promotes the development of resistance that presents a significant threat to human and animal health.”
Part of the reasons for using critically important antimicrobials, such as fluoroquinolones and cephalosporins, is based on convenience along with client demand. Equine practitioners can play an important role in educating clients and not succumbing to the ease of convenience.
Multiple drug resistant (MDR) pathogens and their genetic determinants of resistance are able to cross between animals and humans through close contact, through the food chain and through the environment. This possibility amplifies the adverse consequences of casual use of antimicrobial drugs without evidence-based science to justify their use.