Getting our first stethoscopes and antibiotic resistance

Yesterday I went to a pre-school-start barbeque, where we were welcomed to the university, and were given two presentations on antibiotic resistance. At the very beginning, the president of the Norwegian Veterinary Association congratulated us on getting into vet school, and reminded us how important it is to stick together, both as students, and later in our professional lives, as it will get challenging at times. She also talked about all the career options we will have as vets, and that a lot of vets work in business, administrative jobs, research, and even as politicians.

So since Sundays are supposed to be about what I learned during the week, I thought I’d sum up some of the key points from the antibiotic resistance talks, because a lot of it was really relevant for our health as well, and really interesting.

The first talk, given by the former headmistress, focused mainly on the dangers of antibiotic resistance, and why we, as humans, should worry about what kind of antibiotics we are giving our animals. This was all a part of a movement, called the “One Health Initiative”. As the OIE, the World Organisation for Animal Health, website states, the concept was introduced in the early 2000s as an initiative to expand interdisciplinary collaboration between all medical and environmental professions. The site states that “human health and animal health are interdependent and bound to the health of the ecosystems in which they exist,” and as many as 60 % of existing human infectious diseases are zoonotic, i.e. transmittable from animals to humans. Rabies, West Nile Disease and Ebola are some examples of this.

One of the key factors in ensuring that these zoonotic diseases do not get out of control is that ensuring that antibiotics are prescribed appropriately, and not over used, so that new antibiotic resistant “super-bacteria” does not emerge. Antibiotics are hugely important in both animal and human medicine, so this talk was not “anti-antibiotics”, but to make us aware of the global responsibility we will have as vets. Here are some tips from the OIE-site for what you can do as an owner:

In the second talk, given by one of the professors, we were given some alternatives to antibiotic treatments, and were urged to use the immune system as a “team-mate”. What the professor meant by this is that when prescribing antibiotics to an animal, we should always try to stimulate the immune system in a positive way, whether it is giving probiotics to help the gut flora, or simply separating the animal from any stressors in the heard or family. He also spoke about a concept called “eco shadow”, in that all treatments affect the normal state of the environment it is used on. The wider the spectrum of microbes the medicine is intended for, the more of the normal flora it will interfere with, and the more increased likeliness there is for resistance development. Therefore it is important that we as future vets think of ourselves almost as “detectives”, and investigate all patients as individuals, and figure out the best way to treat the animal, which casts the smallest eco shadow.

Other than the talks, we got some practical information, got to talk to each other, and got some really cool stuff, including a surgery kit, and our first stethoscopes! I was so excited when I unwrapped everything when I got home. It feels kinda unreal that this is all finally happening, and I’m still all giddy and excited about it!

Lastly, everyone I met seemed so nice, and were equally excited to be there. And meeting up in a casual setting like this, before the –real- first day of uni, was really nice. It took a lot of the pressure off tomorrow’s events, and now I’m just really excited for fresher’s week!

If you want to read more about the One Health Initiative, you can click here and here, and you can get the link to the infographic by clicking the image.