Newly funded: Harnessing big data to steward safer antibiotic use in dogs and cats
Antibiotics are critical for treating many infections, but resistance to these valuable drugs, known as antimicrobial resistance (AMR), threatens their effectiveness and introduces additional health issues. Widespread use of antibiotics leads to AMR which makes infections in both humans and animals difficult — and sometimes impossible — to treat. Because humans and animals are treated with similar antibiotics and live in comparable environments, the healthcare and veterinary professions together contribute an intertwined impact on AMR. Tracking antimicrobial use (AU) can curb AMR, but there are no systematic, ongoing national- or state-level programs to track AU in dogs and cats in the United States. Additionally, veterinary medicine faces many field-specific obstacles to effectively track AU. Recently, Jennifer Granick, DVM, MS, PhD, DACVIM, and collaborators at the Antimicrobial Resistance Stewardship Initiative received funding from the US Food and Drug Administration to develop effective, long-term strategies for collecting and reporting AU data from companion animal practices. The team will use this data to establish national estimates of AU in referral and small animal general practices, as well as veterinary teaching hospitals. Building a comprehensive national picture of AU in dogs and cats, understanding companion animal veterinarians' prescribing practices, and helping veterinarians improve AU while effectively treating infections, will support the profession's continued progress toward appropriate AU. This will help keep pet owners safer from exposure, too. Granick and her team have 5 years of experience researching antibiotic use and its impact on companion animals. Funding for this project began on September 1, 2020, and continues through September 2021, and is renewable yearly for up to 5 years.