They play a hugely important role in maintaining both human and animal health worldwide as they not only cure bacterial diseases in people, they also cure bacterial diseases in animals.
For food-producing animals, antibiotics, by ensuring the animals’ health, contribute to efficient use of limited resources (reduced need for food and water and less waste outputs) and help provide a safe supply of food from healthy animals. For pets they ensure a long and healthy human-animal partnership.
Antibiotics are an essential part of any veterinarian’s toolkit for treatment of infectious diseases in both livestock and pets, ensuring that animals are healthy and live better lives. Animal health is a pre-condition for animal welfare and the two cannot be separated. Like people, animals also get sick and need medicines too. Access to and the responsible use of animal health products contribute to animal welfare.
It is vital that antibiotics, like all medicines, are used with care and discrimination to help maintain their effectiveness and limit resistance development. Resistance to antibiotics is a complex issue so it is essential to avoid focusing on inaccurate or misleading information when forming opinion on antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance in veterinary science. The animal health industry promotes the responsible use of all animal health products as they are most effective when used as little as possible and as much as necessary, for the right length of time and in the right way.
Responsible use of antibiotics means that they are used in conjunction with good animal husbandry, bio-security and herd health management plans on farms, including vaccination programmes. A balanced approach, with attention to good hygiene, nutrition and using preventive measures such as vaccination, will ensure that antibiotics remain useful for generations to come.
Nevertheless, with the ever-present need to find innovative ways to fight new diseases which pose a risk to both animals and humans, innovation and R&D are of vital importance to find new classes of antibiotics. HealthforAnimals works alongside policy makers to foster a regulatory environment which fosters this much needed innovation.