New Resource to Help Fight Antimicrobial Resistant Health Risks

PIJAC has introduced comprehensive recommendations developed by a collaborative effort from the pet care, veterinary and health care communities.


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As the cold and flu season comes to an end, you may have taken antibiotics for a bacterial sinus infection or other illness caused by bacteria, and not thought much about it. The use of antibiotics plays a vital role in treating infectious diseases in humans and animals, but their overuse and misuse has fueled the prevalence and growing threat of antimicrobial resistant germs.

 

These resistant germs can diminish or destroy the effectiveness of antibiotics in humans and animals, posing a serious health risk to both. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that in the U.S., two million people are infected with resistant bacteria strains that cause at least 23,000 deaths each year.

 

Two relatively common bacteria species that have resistant strains, Campylobacter and Salmonella, are also common in pets. This makes responsible use of antibiotics in companion animals an urgent concern for both the pet care community and the general public.

 

Last month at the Global Pet Expo in Orlando, Fla., we at the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) introduced a comprehensive set of recommendations for antibiotic stewardship and combating antimicrobial resistance in the pet care trade. This resource was the culmination of a cooperative yearlong effort across the pet care, veterinary and health care communities.

 

These recommendations convey a unified set of principles for all sectors of the pet care community, with an emphasis on those involved in the breeding, rearing, transport and sale of companion animals, as well as those who work with products where antibiotics would regularly intersect with animals. They encompass expert advice and best management practices across several interrelated topics, including use of antibiotics, sanitation, hygiene, veterinary oversight and zoonotic disease prevention.

 

This effort is another demonstration of PIJAC and the pet care community’s commitment to promoting the health and well being of both animals and humans. Through a memorandum of understanding with the CDC, PIJAC has served as the pet industry’s liaison on public health issues and zoonotic disease prevention for over a decade.

 

In 2018, the CDC asked PIJAC to spearhead development of best management practices on antibiotic stewardship in companion animals. As a result, we began working to understand how antibiotics are used throughout the pet trade, and we joined the Global Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Challenge, the U.S. government’s global effort to address the mounting threat of antimicrobial resistant germs to human and animal health.

 

As the voice of the responsible pet care community, PIJAC was the catalyst driving the guide’s development through an extensive process of gathering resources, conducting research and consulting with specialists, professionals and others across a variety of pet care roles.

 

Throughout 2018, we:    

• met with breeders and distributors of companion animals to learn their approaches to antibiotic stewardship;

• collected existing protocols from various organizations regarding the proper handling and administering of antibiotic products;

• sought guidance from the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, and the Animal Health Institute;

• conducted town hall listening and feedback sessions at the Global Pet Expo and Super Zoo trade shows; and

• provided educational materials on this topic to fish management course coordinators at the Aquatic Experience show.

 

We then convened a working group charged with developing recommendations for antibiotic stewardship that was applicable across a broad spectrum of the pet care community. The group was made up of retailers, breeders, distributors, experts in animal care, and representatives from the veterinary medicine and health communities, and other trade associations.

 

The final result is an industry-first, broadly representative set of recommendations for antibiotic stewardship in companion animal care that, if adopted by the pet care community, will help hinder the development of resistant germs and ensure healthier pets and healthier people around the world.

 

PIJAC will be promoting the guide at pet care industry gatherings throughout 2019 and distributing it through our network with direct emails, on our website and more. We need your help as well.

 

We are asking you—pet care professionals—to implement the recommendations, and to distribute them as widely as possible to your peer network, and help us show the world that our community of pet caregivers is dedicated to responsible animal stewardship and care. You can download a copy on pijac.org.   

 

Join our fight to ensure better health for pets and people, and a brighter future for both. Become a member of PIJAC at pijac.org/join, or, if you have any questions about PIJAC or the AMR Challenge, contact us at info@pijac.org or (202) 452-1525. PB

 

Savonne Caughey is the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council’s director of government affairs.

 

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