Cows on a field_RenéSchindler_Pixabay

Veterinary visits to promote responsible use of antibiotics in animals

Since 2005, the multistakeholder platform EPRUMA, of which Access VetMed is part of, has been actively promoting best practices for responsible use of medicines in animals. It has also published best-practice guidelines for the use of antibiotics, vaccines and anthelmintics in animals.

Following the ongoing implementation process of the new EU regulations on veterinary medicines and medicated feed (Regulations 2019/6 and 2019/4), EPRUMA partners reiterate the need for on-the-ground action to ensure adherence to guidelines and recognise the key role that veterinarians, regular veterinary visits, and clinical assessments play for the health and welfare of farm and companion animals in this respect.

In particular, veterinary supervision and care through the implementation of regular veterinary visits on farms as foreseen by EU rules on transmissible animal diseases (Regulation 2016/429) is a welcome recognition of the important role that veterinarians can play in addressing antibiotic resistance by acting as stewards for responsible antibiotic use.

A well-designed animal health plan, including deworming and vaccination programmes, and farmer and other animal owner interactions with veterinarians is a key element for every farm and every animal. Furthermore, a joint monitoring of the animals and proper record keeping of observations made is essential for an early diagnosis of conditions affecting the animal’s health and welfare.

Veterinarians are highly educated to evaluate the health condition of animals under their care, to diagnose and to prescribe the necessary treatment. They are additionally well-aware of the mechanisms leading to the development of antibiotic resistance and the risks for animals and people. In Europe antibiotics are only ever used following the examination, diagnosis and prescription by a veterinarian. Greater recognition of this reality is a welcome addition for policy discussions around the use of antibiotics in animals,” said EPRUMA Chair Steve Hallahan.

Antibiotics remain valuable tools to treat infectious bacterial diseases. They are essential for safeguarding the health and welfare of both farm and companion animals. On farms the administration of antibiotics should be complementary to good farm-management practices, adequate nutrition and a properly designed animal health plan. This multidisciplinary approach requires expertise in many domains, that can be provided by veterinarians, as well as experts in animal nutrition, biosecurity, housing etc. For both companion and livestock animals, the administration of antibiotics should always follow the general principle of ‘as little as possible, as much as necessary’ as advised by the veterinarian.

We, EPRUMA partners remain committed to promoting the key role of veterinary oversight and   supporting transparency of data on the use of veterinary antibiotics to determine trends and identify possible risk factors so that they can addressed appropriately.