The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) has pledged its support for the annual European Antibiotic Awareness day in human medicine, to be held on 18th November, with the launch of literature-based toolkit for equine practitioners on the responsible use of antimicrobials. It is aimed at helping practices to develop their own antimicrobial policies.

Antimicrobial resistance is an emerging clinical problem that is recognised internationally as one of the largest threats to human and animal health. All major health and veterinary organisations are working to try and limit the development of resistance so that effective antimicrobials can be retained for use in clinical practice.

BEVA believes that effective self-regulation on the responsible use of antimicrobials is a more suitable option than a legislative solution. The new toolkit is modelled on BSAVA PROTECT guidelines developed by SAMSoc, but incorporating the essential watchwords ‘Monitor’ and ‘Educate’.

The Protect ME toolkit should help to limit the development of resistance and demonstrate to regulatory authorities that equine veterinary surgeons play an important role in preventing multi-drug resistance. The downloadable documents advise on standard operating procedures and have been designed to be tailored easily to suit the requirements of each practice.

Mark Bowen, Associate Professor of Veterinary Internal Medicine at The University of Nottingham School of Veterinary Medicine and Science and one of the BEVA Council Members involved with developing the Protect ME toolkit said: “We have planned our launch to coincide with European Antibiotic Awareness day as a clear mark of recognition and support. It is imperative that we all treat antimicrobial resistance with great respect to help maintain the efficacy of products remaining in our armoury. The intention of our toolkit is not to dictate practice policy, rather to provide balanced information from which practices can develop their own policies, without restricting clinical freedom.” Vicki Farr, Equine Veterinary Adviser at MSD Animal Health continued: “As a pioneer and a global leader in developing antibiotics and anti-infectives, MSD Animal Health is wholly supportive of BEVA’s Protect ME campaign. It’s imperative that we all work together to promote the responsible use of antibiotics, to slow the spread of resistance in both human and animal health.”

To add further weight to the cause BEVA is working with the Equine Veterinary Journal (EVJ), to establish this publication as the first, worldwide, to adopt an antimicrobial stewardship policy.

EVJ editor Celia Marr said: “Best clinical practice includes responsible use of antimicrobials and we believe an antimicrobial Stewardship policy will serve to highlight this issue to both our authors and our readers. As the leading international single-species veterinary journal, it is important that we lead the field with such initiatives but I expect that many other journals will want to adopt similar policies in future”.

European Antimicrobial Awareness Day is marked annually on 18th November. A number of events are taking place across Europe to spread the messages on the risks associated with inappropriate use of antimicrobials and how to use them responsibly.

The Protect ME toolkit, which is free, comprises pamphlets, antimicrobial use tables, protocols and review forms.

For further information information about the antibiotic awareness day can be found at ecdc.europa.eu/en/eaad

The BSAVA PROTECT document can be found at www.bsava.com