The Intersection of Human and Animal Medicine
Antibiotic resistance in hospitals and veterinary settings has groups of researchers, producers, veterinarians and human doctors striving for an answer, but this is not a one-sided issue.
Dr. Mike Apley with Kansas State University is a veterinarian with 30 years of experience, who also serves on the Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria — otherwise known as the PACCARB.
“We have microbiologists, infectious disease specialists, pharmacologists and epidemiologists from both sides that work together, and we realize a lot of very common threads,” Apley says.
To combat antibiotic resistance, Apley says it comes down to the relationship between the prescriber and the patient. Every day, doctors and veterinarians must strike a balance between alleviating individual suffering while preserving the effectiveness of antibiotics for communities.
It’s a difficult task and part of the advisory council’s National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria. The current plan issued in 2015 runs through 2020. Apley explains what’s next.
“Now we’re charged by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to advise the government on what should be added to or changed in the next iterations. How we need to go further, and those plans include surveillance. They include how we bring about new tests, new products, how we start programs, how we monitor all those types of things,” he says.
Apley says establishing new antibiotics for the veterinary market costs up to 400 million dollars and about 2 billion dollars for human health.
“A lot of them are newer versions of current antibiotics, which can kind of skirt around resistance for a while, but a lot of times, it’ll catch up with us,” he says. “New anti-infectives are incredibly important. In my thinking, they’re a piece of, but not the pivotal point for the answer moving forward. That is infection prevention and making sure we use them optimally when we do use them.”
Apley says that, like human health, animal health communities recognize the importance of evaluating their practices for disease prevention.
“We love to see information and new ways of employing vaccines, nutrition, animal husbandry,” he says. “I think genetics are a huge frontier for us in their interaction with disease. I think it becomes, I don’t know if ‘easy’ is the word, but quicker, faster to look at genetic markers and then comparing them back with what’s going on disease-wise in those animals. That’s a huge frontier for us in looking at all those things together.
“We’ve got to preserve what we have today, and I think that message resonates loud and clear with our producers.”
Learn more about responsible antibiotics use during the National Institute for Animal Agriculture’s 9th annual Antibiotic Symposium, Oct. 15-17 at Iowa State University. Visit animal agriculture.org for more or to register.
–National Institute for Animal Agriculture