Following the release of dramatic UK Government forecasts on the threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), we are urging the public, pet owners and clinicians to stick to the basics of good hygiene and responsible use of antibiotics.
Figures from the 2015 National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies* made UK headlines on April 6, 2015, after AMR made the register for the first time.
Officials predict an AMR blood infection outbreak could affect as many as 200,000 people in the UK – potentially killing 80,000. The risk register document states: “High numbers of deaths could also be expected from other forms of AMR infection.”
BMF believes widespread AMR outbreaks are likely to be more of a threat in developing countries – opposed to the localised episodes we may see in care homes, prisons or veterinary and animal rescue settings in the UK – however, our experts agree “there is a genuine concern about returning to a pre-antibiotic era”.
Two of BMF’s clinical advisors, both expert veterinary dermatologists, are reiterating calls for good hygiene and prudent use of antibiotics.
Edinburgh vet school academic and BMF supporter Tim Nuttall said: “There is now a genuine concern about returning to a pre-antibiotic era, and while new drugs are welcome, the long-term solution involves better antimicrobial stewardship. We must use these drugs less often and more effectively.
“This will mean the public putting less pressure on clinicians for antibiotics for themselves or their animals, better diagnosis and treatment by clinicians, first-class standards of hygiene and infection control and better ways of managing infections without using antibiotics – many cases can be managed by addressing the primary disease and using antiseptics.”
Royal Veterinary College lecturer and BMF supporter David Lloyd said: “There is no question we are facing increasing challenges from bacteria resistant to antibacterial drugs, both in human and veterinary medicine. This is a serious worldwide problem and requires international action – focused on the two key areas of disease prevention and reduced use of antibacterial drugs, applied to human and veterinary medicine and livestock production.
“In hospitals and clinics, rigorous attention to hygiene is a vital component of disease prevention. In farming, good hygiene and the adoption of husbandry methods which reduce stress among animals will also reduce infection and, therefore, the need for antibacterial drugs. Vaccination will continue to be a very important method of disease prevention in both human medicine and animal husbandry.
“The great majority of bacterial infections are still caused by organisms which are sensitive to existing antibiotics. If we use these drugs wisely then levels of resistance are likely to decline but there is an urgent need in both human and veterinary fields to promote the adoption of best practice in the maintenance of hygiene and the prudent use of antibacterial drugs.
“The development of new drugs will be important and is needed. However, it is likely bacteria will be capable of developing resistance to any agents we produce if we use those drugs unwisely. We should therefore also concentrate on measures which reduce our dependence on antibacterial drugs.”
Notes to editors
* To view the 2015 register visit: www.gov.uk/government/
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