BEVA warns horse owners not to hoard unused antibiotics

BEVA is using this year’s Antimicrobial Awareness Week (18-24 November 2023) to urge horse owners not to hoard previously prescribed antibiotics ‘for a rainy day’

Resistance to antimicrobials (antibiotics) is increasing, it is therefore absolutely vital to use them  responsibly to ensure they remain available, both in terms of effectiveness and legislation.

“Giving random, left over or old antibiotics to your horse for a suspected infection is irresponsible and potentially dangerous,” said BEVA’s Immediate Past President David Rendle, RCVS and European Specialist in Equine Internal Medicine.

“It could make things worse, as they might not be the right type of antibiotic for that specific infection and could easily contribute to the problem of resistance. People also forget that antibiotics are not without risk and their use can trigger serious – even fatal – intestinal disease.”-resistant bacteria are an increasing problem in equine practice. Affected horses have longer recovery times, and their owners are faced with higher costs of treatment.

“If you give too little of an antibiotic because you aren’t sure what to give or don’t have enough for the course that is required, the infection is unlikely to be sufficiently treated and you will increase the risk of resistant bacteria,” said BEVA President Roger Smith.

BEVA is asking horse owners to give any leftover antibiotics back to their vet, when they are next visiting.

“It is crucial not to throw old medicines away in the rubbish or flush them down the loo, as they can eventually return to the environment, contaminating soil and watercourses and cause damage to wildlife,” advised Roger.

“The problems we are seeing with antimicrobial resistance is relevant to all vets and all horse owners, and we must all act to reduce the development of resistance.”

BEVA have produced a ‘PROTECT ME’ toolkit, which contains posters and fact sheets for equine vets to share directly with their clients or through social media, to help them to understand more about the importance of antimicrobial resistance and why antibiotics are not always prescribed.

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