The Japanese government has developed a selection of materials to aid companion animal veterinarians in antimicrobial use. The materials have been distributed nationwide since 2020 and have already shown results to help combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR), such as more appropriate selection of antimicrobials. The process of monitoring, surveillance and establishing effective measures for antimicrobial use in companion animals in Japan could be a model for other countries.
The companion animal sector plays one of the biggest roles in the fight against AMR using a “One Health” approach, but there are few countries monitoring AMR in companion animals and implementing actions to ensure responsible and prudent use of antimicrobials. The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) started monitoring AMR in companion animals in 2017. The results of this monitoring were published in the Nippon AMR One Health Report (NAOR), after which time MAFF started to work with the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) and the External Expert Group on AMR in Companion Animals (comprising veterinary surgeons and experts from both veterinary and medical fields) to take action.
The annual NAOR is a cross-sectoral publication. In 2018, the report showed similarities of AMR patterns in companion animals and human patients, raising an alarm to MAFF. This led to the development and nationwide distribution of materials in 2020 to at least 10,000 companion animal clinics, 17 veterinary universities, and also pet shops. Materials included:
MAFF initiated the project, in cooperation with MHLW. The External Expert Group contributed to preparation of the materials. Both the Guidelines for antimicrobial use by companion animal veterinarians and Handbook of Zoonoses are published on MHLW and MAFF websites and delivered to relevant stakeholders.
Guidelines, reference materials and posters
Handbook of Zoonoses
Since distribution of the new materials, a questionnaire was conducted with companion animal veterinarians. Many responded that they were satisfied with the guidelines and other materials. Some of them started to prepare gram stains from samples in their clinics before use of antimicrobials and have also been explaining AMR issues to pet owners. MAFF will continue promoting the use of guidelines and materials, and to further measure their efficacy.
Report prepared by Dr Tomoko Ishibashi, MAFF, Japan