Meat & Livestock News

Emphasis on Preventative Care in Animal Health: A Call to Action During World AMR Awareness Week

A gloved veterinarian in a white holding syringe with vaccine on the background of a dairy cow in the cowshed

In light of World Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Awareness Week, which runs from the 18th to the 24th of November, veterinary professionals are highlighting the importance of preventative measures in animal healthcare.

This global campaign addresses the growing concern of AMR, which the World Health Organisation identifies as a top 10 global health threat affecting humans, animals, and the environment.

Proactive Measures for Animal Health

The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) advocates a proactive approach to animal health. Key recommendations include:

  • Regular Vaccinations: Ensuring animals are vaccinated against preventable diseases and keeping these vaccinations up to date.
  • Isolation of Sick Animals: Separating ill or potentially infectious animals from healthy ones to prevent the spread of diseases.
  • Balanced Diet and Proper Shelter: Providing animals with a well-balanced diet and continuous access to shade and shelter to prevent illnesses.

Sally Cory, the NZVA Head of Veterinary Services – Companion Animal, emphasises the significance of reducing antibiotic treatments to safeguard these vital medicines for future use. “The more we can keep animals well, the less frequently antibiotics may need to be used, thus reducing the chance of harmful bacteria becoming difficult or impossible to treat,” Cory explains.

Owner Awareness and Responsible Antibiotic Use

Cory also points out the ongoing challenge of raising owner awareness about the precious nature of antibiotics. Vets often manage expectations for these drugs to be prescribed.

She notes, “We don’t always need antibiotics when unwell, and it’s the same for animals.” It’s crucial for pet and livestock owners to adhere strictly to veterinary instructions regarding the dosage, frequency, and duration of any prescribed antibiotics.

For farmers, implementing an effective and comprehensive vaccination programme is vital in preventing illnesses, as many diseases can be effectively vaccinated against.

Additionally, if animals do not respond to antibiotics, owners should inform their veterinarian, as further investigations or a different approach may be necessary. “This doesn’t necessarily mean they need another or a bigger dose of antibiotics, but a different course of action might be needed,” adds Cory.

Progress in Reducing Antibiotic Use

There has been a notable decrease in total antibiotic use in all animals in New Zealand in recent years. The NZVA states that these efforts are contributing to their aspirational goal that by 2030, New Zealand will not need antibiotics for the maintenance of animal health and wellness.

This initiative underscores the critical need for a shift towards preventative care in animal health, not only for the animals’ welfare but also for everyone’s long-term health, given the significant threat posed by antibiotic-resistant infections.