The importance of good hygiene in the prevention of Antimicrobial Resistance

With the outbreak of COVID-19 we have all become very accustomed to hand washing to prevent spread of disease. However, how important is good hygiene in relation to antimicrobial resistance?

Research suggests that MRSA is present in 1-3% of the general population. However, this rises sharply in veterinary professionals with the prevalence being as high as 18% in some surveys. This is because vets are in close contact with many animals daily, with differing microbial populations. Therefore, vets can easily become carriers of resistant organisms.

It is well recognised that good hygiene reduces infection rates in the human medical setting, and it has been demonstrated that hand washing between infectious MRSA cases in horses has a protective effect. Therefore, it is crucial that the same good practices we see in the human setting such as handwashing and good hygiene are implemented in veterinary practice. Use gloves, particularly when administering antimicrobials, wash hands at key points including before and after patient contact and encourage owners to practise good hygiene especially in infected animals. By minimising the spread of bacteria, we are also reducing the chance of spreading resistance genes and preventing their propagation.

This is a small step, but it can go a long way in preserving the efficacy of antimicrobials and sustaining good human and animal health.

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Good hyigene