World Veterinary Day 2017: Theme–“Antimicrobial Resistance-From Awareness to Action”

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This is the day to celebrate a great profession and illustrate its greatness throughout the World. All veterinarians are aware of the multitude of beneficial professional activities and artful practices that the profession does for its patients and clients.

‘World veterinary day’ is celebrated annually on the last Saturday of  ‘April ‘ when all veterinarians publicly put on show their broad knowledge, skills, and the loads of contributions, their profession makes to society and the world at large. It is a day that private practitioners, corporate and public practitioners, educators and students can show the scores of contributions of their great profession. World Veterinary day was instituted by the World Veterinary Association (WVA) in 2000.  WVA and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) in the year 2008 agreed on the creation of the World Veterinary Day Award aimed at rewarding the most successful celebration of the veterinary profession by national veterinary associations, alone, or in cooperation with any other selected veterinary body. Selected theme for last year was “Continuing Education with a One Health focus.

The theme selected for the year 2017 is “Antimicrobial resistance- From awareness to action”. The accessibility and use of antimicrobial drugs has now transformed the practice of human and animal medicine. Infections that were once fatal are now treatable, and the use of antimicrobial drugs has advanced global health as well as animal health, which is a key component of animal welfare, food security and safety. A broad collection of antibiotics are used in animal medicine including cephalosporin’s, beta-lactams, tetracycline’s, sulphonamides, amino glycosides, macrolides etc. Antibiotics in animal medicine are used largely for animal’s therapeutic use, prophylactic use and as growth promoters to improve feed utilization and production. Most of the antibiotics which are used in food animals are under the same class of drugs that belong to human medicine. However, exploitation and overuse of these drugs in humans, animals and also plant sector has dramatically accelerated the emergence of antimicrobial resistance.  Veterinary drug residues have been recognized as an important aspect of food safety because residues may persist for longer periods after withdrawal of the drug treatment. Antibiotics are also used as feed additives to promote growth, improve feed efficiency and synchronize the reproductive cycle and breeding performance which may further lead to residual toxicity. Safe and effective utilization of drugs in animal production has received substantial attention globally. The antibiotic resistance has gained its significance due to the transmission of antibiotic resistance factor to other enteric organisms which have posed a serious public health problem. 

The occurrence of antibiotic residues in food is mainly as a result of therapeutic treatment for animals or supplementation of animal feed and a limited amount of residues arise by the addition of antibiotics in preservation of milk, meat, fish, poultry and when these products are consumed it ultimately leads to microbial resistance to antibiotics. The quanta of antibiotics used for the treatment of bacterial infections in humans have veterinary applications. The antibiotics are being used at concentrations lower than the therapeutic concentrations for a longer period of time which is potentially a perilous practice. It is one of the strongest selective pressures leading to emergence of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, induction of allergic reactions in humans and technological problems of fermented meat products. Chloromycetine although a useful antibiotic, has been proved as one of the most death-defying because it’s responsible for fatal blood dyscrasias and also been regarded as toxic to premature infants.

Many well known antibiotics are no longer effective to treat common infections such as otitis, pneumonia, gonorrhea and tuberculosis. The most common causes of occurrence of drug residues in milk are insufficient identification of treated cows, insufficient knowledge about withdrawal periods and failures due to hired staff. These residues not only generate nuisance in dairy industry but also have gigantic public health significance by causing potential hazards like allergic reactions, interference in the intestinal flora, pathological effects like autoimmunity, Carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, hepatotoxicity, reproductive disorders, bone marrow toxicity, allergy, leucocytosis, lung congestion, toxic granulation of granulocytes, thrombocytopenia and damage to teeth and bones. The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has described resistance as one of the world’s most serious health problems and WHO has identified antibiotic resistance as one of the three greatest threats to human health. Thus, microbial resistance is the main cause of newly emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. The WHO has recommended that antibiotics which are also licensed in human medicine should not be used any more as growth promoters in livestock.

Veterinarians and veterinary paraprofessionals play a decisive role in protecting global health against antimicrobial resistance and they have opportunities and responsibilities to improve both animal and human health along with the welfare of animals. In the current era of globalisation, the emergence or re-emergence of unexpected sanitary events is accelerating. It is estimated that five new emerging infectious human diseases appear each year, of which three are zoonotic. The recent Ebola epidemic, zika virus epidemic causing microcephaly  & Guillain-barre syndrome in humans, as well as the too numerous human deaths caused each year by Rabies, dreadfully remind us of the strong links existing between the health of people, animals and environment and consequently the need for multi-sectoral approaches illustrated through the ‘One Health’ concept.

On this auspicious ‘World Veterinary Day’ all the fraternities of human and animal medicine must pull their socks up in regulating and supervising the use of antimicrobial drugs, offering professional advice to farmers, animal owners and collaborating with human health sector. In order to step forward in control and prevention of diseases and improvement in animal welfare vets need to encourage and accomplish a sustainable behavioural modification towards a responsible and prudent antimicrobial use. It is time to turn the words into action. Through this year’s world veterinary day theme, the WVA and OIE seek to encourage all the initiatives and events led by vets, in collaboration with other sectors, to fight antimicrobial resistance and raise awareness on this essential issue in their countries.

Indian community of veterinarians also celebrate this World Veterinary day with various zealous functions and remembers their sincere contribution towards the society. As quoted by Rudolf Virchow “Between animal and human medicine there is no dividing line—nor should there be. The object is different but the experience obtained constitutes the basis of all medicine.” Rudolf Virchow’s statement is as wise today as it was over a century ago. That all animal species, including Homo sapiens, are related and that knowledge gained in one species benefits all lead to the concept of “One Medicine”. Hence, veterinary medicine is fundamentally a human health activity.

“Healthy people mean the healthy nation which is possible only after having the healthy animals. Therefore Vet for food, Vet for health and Vet for the planet is the entity on the occasion of ‘World Veterinary Day’ which has to be remembered.”

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