Animals, like people, are susceptible to infections by many different disease causing organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. Antimicrobial drugs are medicines that act against this wide range of infections, such as those caused by bacteria (antibiotics), viruses (antivirals), fungi (antifungals) and parasites (guidance for parasite control in sheep and cattle).
Antimicrobial resistance, or AMR, arises when the micro-organisms which cause infection are able to survive treatment by a medicine that would normally kill them or stop them growing. AMR is a serious, shared global problem. Resistance is a natural process, exacerbated by widespread therapeutic use of antimicrobials. Within this, antibiotic resistance is the ability of bacteria to grow or survive in the presence of an antibiotic that is usually sufficient to inhibit or kill bacteria of that species.
Antibiotics are vital in managing severe infections. A world in which their usefulness is lessened or lost completely is a frightening but realistic possibility. Modern medicine would look very different, for example, in both humans and animals:
Additionally, in animals untreatable infections could:
There are key considerations regarding antibiotics and antibiotic resistance:
We will look at actions which you can take: