The issue: antimicrobial resistance

E. coli - a bug commonly involved in AMR. Image by APHA Pathology Bio-imaging

E. coli adhering to host cells. Image by APHA Pathology Bio-imaging

Antimicrobial-resistant bacteria are an established and growing issue in small animal veterinary practice. The problem is, people can't see the bacteria on themselves, on animals, or on the surfaces and objects they touch. This makes it difficult to prevent and control infection in the most effective manner, as habits and standard practice are hard to change if you can't directly perceive what you are dealing with.

These bacterial communities are often resistant to physical or chemical removal and are able to exchange genetic material that confers resistance to antibiotics. For these reasons, activities such as disinfecting surfaces, sterilising instruments and treating patients with antibiotics are a fundamental part of the working life of health professionals.

However, the uptake of appropriate infection control measures (ICM) is heavily influenced by human risk perception and consequent behaviour, and also by the way humans and animals interact with each other and the physical environment of the vet practice. Whilst data exist to inform best practice in ICM they are largely published in journals in an academic format, thus having limited impact on how practitioners understand and practise ICM in their working environment.

Effective communication and teaching tools are therefore necessary to ensure individuals' understanding and behaviours are in line with scientific recommendations. Our aim is to change the perception of risk through the use of our training intervention.