College of Veterinarians of Ontario (College) is releasing the final report on a project which studied antibiotic stewardship and veterinary medicine in Ontario.

“With antibiotic resistance clearly identified as an important animal and public health concern, this report is a compilation of the expertise that exists among food animal veterinarians in Ontario,” said Dr. Jennifer Day, President of the College. “The College is pleased to have worked in collaboration with veterinarians on this important topic.”

The report, “Antibiotic Use in Food-Producing Animals in Ontario: A Study of the Current Practises and Perceptions of Ontario Veterinarians,” includes the research gathered through a background review, a survey of food-producing animal veterinarians, facilitated discussion sessions with veterinarians and broad consultations.

In March 2014, the College received funding to study the antibiotic prescribing patterns of veterinarians practising in food animal medicine. The aim of the project was to identify opportunities to engage veterinary stewardship and promote prudent use. The research project spanned from April 2014 to September 2015 and focused on six commodity groups – beef, dairy, poultry, sheep/goats, swine and veal.

“This project marks the beginning of a conversation with food-producing animal veterinarians on the relationship between public health and antibiotic use in animal care. It is important for the profession to define its challenges and responsibilities in the veterinary stewardship of antibiotic use in Ontario,” said Jan Robinson, Registrar and Chief Executive Officer at the College.

During the project, all suggested actions were grouped under four themes:

• Legislation and Regulation
• Education and Liaison
• Research and Surveillance
• Quality Assurance

All suggested actions were included, regardless of the level of support. Suggestions included:
• Making antibiotics available by veterinary prescription only
• Establishing prescribing protocols
• Monitoring antibiotic use and resistance
• Researching impacts on animal welfare
• Establishing protocols for on-farm use
• Introducing mandatory continuing education

“Veterinarians have the training and expertise to be the stewards of antibiotic use in food-producing animals. Throughout the project, Ontario’s veterinarians demonstrated enthusiastic willingness to help ensure antibiotic use in food-producing animals is prudent and sustainable,” said Robinson.

“The report provides the relevant information for continuing to work with the food-producing animal community to establish which actions are priorities and analyzing their potential impact. The College and the Council looks forward to pursuing further initiatives to facilitate antimicrobial stewardship in veterinary medicine in Ontario,” said Robinson.

The College protects and serves the public interest through the regulation of the practice of veterinary medicine. Accordingly, veterinarians are licensed, facilities are accredited, standards and policies are developed and maintained, and an investigations and resolutions process is available. The College licenses approximately 4,500 veterinarians and accredits over 2,100 facilities in Ontario.