Antimicrobial drug use in veterinary medicine.

Morley PS, Apley MD, Besser TE, Burney DP, Fedorka-Cray PJ, Papich MG, Traub-Dargatz JL, Weese JS.

Recognizing the importance of antimicrobial resistance and the need for veterinarians to aid in efforts for maintaining the usefulness of antimicrobial drugs in animals and humans, the Board of Regents of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine charged a special committee with responsibility for drafting this position statement regarding antimicrobial drug use in veterinary medicine. The Committee believes that veterinarians are obligated to balance the well-being of animals under their care with the protection of other animals and public health. Therefore, if an animal’s medical condition can be reasonably expected to improve as a result of treatment with antimicrobial drugs, and the animal is under a veterinarian’s care with an appropriate veterinarian-client-patient relationship, veterinarians have an obligation to offer antimicrobial treatment as a therapeutic option. Veterinarians also have an obligation to actively promote disease prevention efforts, to treat as conservatively as possible, and to explain the potential consequences associated with antimicrobial treatment to animal owners and managers, including the possibility of promoting selection of resistant bacteria. However, the consequences of losing usefulness of an antimicrobial drug that is used as a last resort in humans or animals with resistant bacterial infections might be unacceptable from a public or population health perspective. Veterinarians could therefore face the difficult choice of treating animals with a drug that is less likely to be successful, possibly resulting in prolonged or exacerbated morbidity, to protect the good of society. The Committee recommends that voluntary actions be taken by the veterinary profession to promote conservative use of antimicrobial drugs to minimize the potential adverse effects on animal or human health. The veterinary profession must work to educate all veterinarians about issues related to conservative antimicrobial drug use and antimicrobial resistance so that each individual is better able to balance ethical obligations regarding the perceived benefit to their patients versus the perceived risk to public health. Specific means by which the veterinary profession can promote stewardship of this valuable resource are presented and discussed in this document.


Paul Morley


Morley PS, Apley MD, Besser TE, Burney DP, Fedorka-Cray PJ, Papich MG, Traub-Dargatz JL, Weese JS. Antimicrobial drug use in veterinary medicine. J Vet Intern Med. 2005 Jul-Aug;19(4):617-29.