4 Ways To Manage Antibiotic Resistance

While it’s impossible to stop pathogens from developing resistance to antibiotics, the issue can be managed.

Burt Rutherford, Senior Editor

December 26, 2013

3 Min Read
4 Ways To Manage Antibiotic Resistance

It’s a case, says Terry Dwelle, of being vigilant, judicious and smart. And perhaps, most importantly of all, of coming out from behind the barricades and silos and working together. That’s his prescription for dealing with antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

Dwelle is a pediatrician and infectious disease expert serving as the state health officer in North Dakota for the past 12 years. What’s more, he’s a rancher and has international health care experience, having served in healthcare clinics in Africa. However, it is from the perspective of a public health official that he suggests four tactics to consider as the U.S. struggles to manage a growing concern about antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

“Number one, public information campaigns may be something we should consider to inform the public regarding inappropriate antibiotic use and the adverse effects,” he says. “What we want to do is change, if we can, public expectations (about antibiotic use) and make them more appropriate.”

Next, he says intensive informational campaigns for physicians and veterinarians alike need to be considered, with the same goal in mind – establish a mindset of appropriate and judicious antibiotic use.  In Denver, he says, a program that focused on clinicians and the public resulted in a decrease from 74% to 48% in the antimicrobial usage for bronchitis with no change in the control group.

“The third thing we might be able to do is (establish) proactive hospital usage programs,” he says. In fact, such programs might be the easiest part of the equation, because doctors have complete control over antibiotic use and a hospital can put teeth in its antibiotic use policies.

“When you get to the clinics, I don’t know exactly how we’re going to do that,” he says. “A question I would have for our veterinarian colleagues is would there be some proactive policy things we can do to help clinicians better use antibiotics?”


Subscribe now to Cow-Calf Weekly to get the latest industry research and information in your inbox every Friday!

Hospital campaigns work, he says, because he saw it happen when he was working as an infectious disease specialist in a Bismarck hospital. There, he established a program to help doctors make appropriate and judicious choices when ordering antibiotic treatments. “In a matter of 6-8 weeks, the appropriate use of broad-spectrum antibiotics increased to 95%, and we started to see a downturn in resistance patterns of the organisms we were dealing with,” he says.

The fourth thing he suggests is this: “Maybe it’s time for us to have a little more collaboration and partnership work to talk about things.” He is chair of the Infectious Disease Policy Committee for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. “I know I speak for my committee,” he says. “We would be greatly interested, if there is interest from other parties, in getting together to talk about how public health, human medicine and veterinary medicine can work together on a comprehensive program to hopefully deal with resistance issues.”


You might also like:

True Or False: Animal Agriculture Uses 80% Of All Antibiotics

Antibiotics: Whats Your Responsibility?

20 Dick Stubler Ranch Life Cartoons

Animal Antibiotics Resistance & Human Health

Photo Gallery: Meet The Family Behind Family Farms

About the Author(s)

Burt Rutherford

Senior Editor, BEEF Magazine

Burt Rutherford is director of content and senior editor of BEEF. He has nearly 40 years’ experience communicating about the beef industry. A Colorado native and graduate of Colorado State University with a degree in agricultural journalism, he now works from his home base in Colorado. He worked as communications director for the North American Limousin Foundation and editor of the Western Livestock Journal before spending 21 years as communications director for the Texas Cattle Feeders Association. He works to keep BEEF readers informed of trends and production practices to bolster the bottom line.

Subscribe to Our Newsletters
BEEF Magazine is the source for beef production, management and market news.

You May Also Like