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Protect Your Horse from the Perils of Antibiotic Resistance



The discovery of antibiotics changed medicine forever. Sadly, there are now grave concerns regarding their continued efficacy. Bacteria are becoming resistant to the drugs and it has been impossible to ignore the media coverage regarding antibiotic-resistant superbugs. It is important to remember that the issues with antibiotics are not restricted to their impact on human health.

Antibiotics are not working as well as previously for horses either. If your horse is suffering from a bacterial infection, you may no longer be able to rely on antibiotics to clear it up.



Bacteria Evolving Faster Than New Drugs


These drugs work by killing bacteria or preventing them from growing so that the immune system of the affected person or animal can control the infection. But bacteria can become resistant to an antibiotic. Bacteria can pass resistance genes to future generations and also have the ability to become resistant to multiple drugs. Scientists are constantly searching for new drugs but they aren’t keeping up with the bacteria! It is essential to do everything you can to protect your horse and here’s how you do it.

Is it Essential?


You should only use antibiotics when it is essential to do so. The more these drugs are used, the quicker bacteria become resistant to them. The British Equine Veterinary Association has instituted the Protect ME policy which aims to ensure that certain antibiotics are reserved for use only for the treatment of critical cases. Most equine vets have subscribed to this policy.

Remember that not all infections are bacterial. you cannot treat viral infections with antibiotics. In addition, many bacterial infections do not require the use of antibiotics in order to clear up. Your horse’s immune system will be able to tackle many infections unaided. For this reason, your vet may not prescribe antibiotics for the treatment of your horse’s illness.

Treatment Tips

  • Always ensure that your horse completes the full course of antibiotics and do not miss any doses.
  • Try to limit the spread of infections by being fastidious about washing your hands. You could be carrying MRSA and dirty hands can contaminate wounds and transfer resistant bacteria from horse to horse.
  • Isolate any new arrivals in the yard for at least three weeks in case they are harbouring an infection.
  • Spread the news about antibiotic resistance to anyone who will listen! Despite the media coverage of the issue, many people simply do not realise how serious the implications of antibiotic resistance are.


Antibiotic resistance is a serious threat to the health of horses as well as people. It is vital that every equestrian does all they can to prevent the spread of infections and to limit the use of antibiotics. Hopefully, scientific advances will eventually provide a solution to this incredibly worrying problem.

 

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