Editorials

Antimicrobial resistance: a veterinary perspective

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.317.7159.610 (Published 05 September 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:610
  1. Q A McKellar (mckeq@mri.sari.ac.uk)
  1. Moredun Research Institute, International Research Centre, Penicuik, Midlothian EH26 0PZ

    Antimicrobial resistance: a veterinary perspective

    Bacterial disease is a major constraint on the efficient production of animal derived food and causes ill health and suffering in both food producing and companion animals. In some production systems the spread of bacterial disease may be accelerated by the proximity of the animals. Bacterial disease may be controlled in some situations by eradication, maintenance of animals of specified health status, vaccination, and good hygiene. Nevertheless, antimicrobial chemotherapy remains vitally important for treating and in some cases preventing bacterial disease. Many bacterial diseases of animals are potentially fatal; others cause pain and distress. Appropriate use of antimicrobials will cure some sick animals and speed the recovery of others, and may improve the welfare of treated animals and reduce the spread of infection to other animals or, in the case of zoonotic disease, to humans. The challenge is to use antimicrobials wisely, minimising the risk of resistance.

    The short generation time and ability to exchange genetic material has inevitably resulted in the development of resistance to antimicrobials by many animal bacteria.1 Nevertheless, some drugs have retained excellent activity against particular target organisms, such as penicillin against Streptococcus agalactia despite extensive use for 40 years.2 …

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