Sick animals can't eat soup or watch Netflix in bed – get them vaccinated

Published Friday 18 November 2022

While humans can generally stay home and curl up with a good book and cup of tea to recover from ills and chills, animals are not as privileged when it comes to fighting off nasty bugs.

The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) is reminding people to ensure their animals’ vaccinations are up-to-date as part of World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW), which runs from 18-24 November.

WAAW is held annually to increase people’s understanding of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which happens when viruses, parasites or bacteria change and no longer respond to medicine, making them difficult or impossible to treat. Vaccinations are a critical tool in preventing drug resistant viruses and bacteria developing and spreading amongst animals and humans.

Chair of the NZVA’s Antimicrobial Resistance Committee (AMRC) Mark Bryan says keeping animals up-to-date with their vaccinations is important in preventing them from getting sick and needing antimicrobials. Because animal health and human health are so closely connected, preventing AMR is important for us all.

“Vaccinating your animals minimises the risk of disease and reduces the need to use antimicrobial therapy like antibiotics and antifungal medications. It’s the best protection you can give your four-legged friends to keep them safe and healthy. If bacteria become antibiotic resistant, there is a risk of either transfer of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or of the resistant genes, between animals and humans in either direction.”

“If your pet or the animals you keep get sick, you should keep them away from other animals until they are better. Your vet might advise you to follow other health measures like not allowing them to share their toys or use communal water bowls at home.”

Vaccinating animals helps keep them healthy and out of clinic waiting rooms, much like the human health system. Many clinics around the country are short staffed and working in different ways to ensure they can continue providing high quality care. Unfortunately, this means there may be longer wait times to be seen by a vet.

“Antimicrobial resistance can be prevented by ensuring your animals are vaccinated, that antibiotics are only used when necessary, and good hygiene practises are followed. Your animals can’t tell you if they are sick but you can help prevent them getting unwell and spreading illnesses to others.”

Talk to your vet clinic if you are unsure about your animals’ vaccination status or needs.


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