This November, pet owners are once again being encouraged to return any out-of-date or unused antibiotics they have at home that were prescribed for their much-loved companions, to their vet practice as part of an Antibiotic Amnesty.
This is the second annual campaign led by a collaboration of UK veterinary organisations, practices and charities to educate owners about antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
The campaign aims to raise awareness of the importance of the safe use and safe disposal of these important medicines in order to address AMR and prevent environmental pollution.
What is the issue?
Antibiotics are essential to treat many conditions in both people and animals. But they must be used carefully, to ensure they remain effective for when patients, human or animal, really need them.
If not used responsibly, antibiotics can lead to dangerous side effects, delay an accurate diagnosis, and contribute to antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Inappropriate disposal of unused antibiotics also damages the environment, impacting water quality and wildlife.
Fergus Allerton, a vet working in the Midlands, who is once again helping coordinate the amnesty, said: “We are delighted to be running the veterinary antibiotic amnesty again this November, and are encouraging as many pet owners as possible to take part by returning their unused and out-of-date antibiotics to their local vet practice.
“The veterinary profession is committed to not only the responsible use of antibiotics to help treat pets when appropriate, but also to the safe disposal of these important medicines and we want to help and support owners to do this.”
Mr Allerton continued: “Antimicrobial resistance is a world-wide health threat and occurs when bacteria develop resistance to the effects of antibiotic treatments, making treatment for people and animals less effective.
“Antibiotics can offer life-saving treatment for serious conditions in humans, animals and pets, which is why in all situations, antibiotics need to be used and disposed of carefully.”
The amnesty aims to help raise awareness of a number of important elements around the safe use and disposal of antibiotics through a range of educational materials including leaflets, posters and animations, which vet practices will be displaying throughout November.
Owners can learn more here, by clicking HERE.
Mr Allerton added: “It is important that owners don’t use leftover antibiotics for their pets as this could risk side effects, delay an accurate diagnosis, and contribute to antimicrobial resistance. It is also vital that antibiotics are disposed of safely.
“Inappropriate disposal of unused antibiotics could contribute to antimicrobial resistance and pollute the environment and have a negative impact on water quality and wildlife.”
“When it comes to disposal, studies show that leftover antibiotics are rarely returned to vets and are more commonly disposed of in household waste or down sinks and toilets. “This could potentially contribute to AMR and have a negative impact on water quality, aquatic life and wildlife.”