To mark today's European Antibiotic Awareness Day 2010, the British Veterinary Association is warning veterinary surgeons in the UK that failure to use antimicrobials responsibly could result in their use being restricted.

The BVA promotes the responsible use of antimicrobials and last year published a poster and guidance for vets: 'Responsible use of antimicrobials in veterinary practice: the 8-point plan'. According to the association, the poster received very positive feedback from across the UK and from the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE).

Concerns regarding resistance to antimicrobials and antibiotics span both the human and animal medicine fields and in 2008 the Chief Medical Officer called for a ban on the use of certain types of antibiotics in animals in order to protect their activity in humans.

Furthermore some EU Member States already restrict the availability of antimicrobials to veterinary surgeons and adopt a strict formulary approach to the medicines that they can prescribe. The BVA says it is concerned that this trend will reach the UK and the freedom of vets to prescribe according to their clinical judgement will be restricted.

Harvey Locke, President of the BVA, said: "Antimicrobial resistance is an enormous problem for both human and animal health. As veterinary surgeons we have a duty to use these medicines responsibly for the good of animal health and welfare as well as public health.

"The BVA's poster on responsible use should be displayed in veterinary practices across the UK as a constant reminder, and I would urge all vets to refer to it.

"Failure to heed the message of responsible use could result in vets losing the right to prescribe certain medicines, which could have a significant impact on animal health and welfare.

"On Antibiotic Awareness Day our message to vets is clear: use them responsibly or lose them."

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