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Descriptive epidemiological study of the use of antimicrobial drugs by companion animal veterinarians in New Zealand

Authors: French NP, Prattley DJ, Souphavanh K, Hill KE, Pleydell EJ
Publication: New Zealand Veterinary Journal, Volume 60, Issue 2, pp 115-122, Mar 2012
Publisher: Taylor and Francis

Animal type: Cat, Companion animal, Dog
Subject Terms: Animal remedies/veterinary medicines, Antibiotics, Epidemiology, Infectious disease, Survey, Veterinary profession
Article class: Scientific Article

AIM: To describe the patterns of use of antimicrobial drugs by veterinary surgeons treating commonly presented bacterial infections in companion animals in New Zealand.

METHODS: A postal survey of 800 randomly selected companion animal veterinarians practicing in New Zealand was conducted between August and December 2008. Data were collected regarding the antimicrobials prescribed for recent cases of skin, ear and urinary tract infections; the use of culture and susceptibility testing; and veterinarian characteristics such as proportion of time spent treating companion animals and recent attendance at continuing professional development (CPD) events. Potential associations within the data were explored using extended mosaic plots and multivariable regression models.

RESULTS:Completed surveys from 393 respondents were available for analysis, providing data on systemic antimicrobial drug use for 1,799 cases of presumptive bacterial infections. The most frequently prescribed drugs were amoxicillin-clavulanic acid (864 cases, 48%), cephalexin (558, 31%), and fluoroquinolones (198, 11%). Of 359 cases of canine superficial pyoderma, 157 (44%) were treated with amoxicillin-clavulanic acid and 155 (43%) were treated with cephalexin with median reported treatment durations of 7 and 10 days, for these two drugs respectively. Culture and susceptibility tests had been used in 376 of 1,984 (19%) of all reported cases and 160 (43%) of these were suspected urinary tract infections. Practitioners that spent 100% of their time treating companion animals and who had attended a CPD course related to companion animals within the 12 months prior to completing the survey were more likely to submit a sample for culture and susceptibility testing and to prescribe longer courses of antimicrobials for the treatment of canine pyoderma than practitioners who spent less than 100% of their time treating companion animals and had not attended a CPD course in the last 12 months.

CONCLUSIONS: Broad-spectrum drugs considered by the World Health Organisation to be critically important for human health, such as fluoroquinolones and amoxicillin-clavulanic acid, are amongst the most frequently prescribed antimicrobials in companion animal medicine, and these drugs are often prescribed without submitting a sample for culture and susceptibility testing.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Many cases of superficial pyoderma were treated for less than the recommended duration of 21 days, which may contribute to a higher rate of recurrent pyoderma and the development of drug resistance within the causal bacteria. Veterinarians should be aware that the use of fluoroquinolones, in particular, should be based upon the results of a culture and susceptibility test.

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