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U of M expert talks about antibiotic awareness

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Dr. Jennifer Granick

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a report that estimated 35,000 Americans die from antibiotic-resistant infections each year. What is antibiotic resistance and how important is proper antibiotic use for both human and animal health?

Antibiotic resistance

When exposed to antibiotics, bacteria can adapt and develop ways to escape their effects. It's why we should be careful about how we use antibiotics, which are a type of medicine that kills or stops the growth of bacteria. Using antibiotics when they are not necessary might mean that they will not work when really needed.

Antibiotic stewardship

Antibiotic stewardship is the process of improving how we use antibiotics while effectively treating infections. Eliminating unnecessary antibiotic use, along with taking them as directed, and disposing of unused antibiotics properly, can help ensure that antibiotics will work when they are really needed.

Antibiotics are critical for the health of humans and animals, so preserving the effectiveness of these drugs is a responsibility for all of us.

As a veterinarian, I am concerned about the number of bacterial infections I see in pets that cannot be treated with commonly used antibiotics. Creating greater antibiotic awareness is a great opportunity for prescribers and patients (both four-legged and two-legged) to find out how we can partner together to improve the way we use antibiotics and lessen the risk of antibiotic resistance.

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This fall, a team at the College of Veterinary Medicine launched the Antimicrobial Resistance and Stewardship Initiative, aimed at providing high-quality and evidence-based resources for antibiotic resistance and stewardship, and conducting research to advance knowledge of companion animal diseases and treatment.

The team is developing a system for robust companion animal disease surveillance to learn more about antibiotic-resistant infections in the pet population, as well as how antibiotics are used locally and nationally by veterinarians treating dogs, cats, horses and other companion animals.

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