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U of C-developed app to help veterinarians prescribing antibiotics


The veterinary smartphone app will help tackle antimicrobial resistance in animals

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University of Calgary researchers are hoping a new smartphone app they helped develop will improve veterinary care for animals across the country.

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The app will help animal health professionals combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in animals. AMR is a defence that bacteria, viruses and parasites can build up against medications typically used to treat them, rendering treatments less and less effective over time. It’s frequently caused by overuse or misuse of medicines such as antibiotics. AMR is one of the top 10 global health threats facing humanity, according to the World Health Organization, and animals are also susceptible.

The app is based on a similar one created for human health that helps doctors determine which and how much medication to use for specific ailments, which U of C researchers also had a hand in developing. Herman Barkema, a professor in the school’s faculty of veterinary medicine, saw a similar need in the animal health world, so he helped build one.

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Barkema and a team of U of C researchers developed the app alongside the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and the Stewardship of Antimicrobials by Veterinarians Initiative. Barkema said the app will be particularly useful for rural veterinarians who have a large number of different species of animals they treat.

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“Human doctors only have one species that they have to work on . . . Veterinarians work with dogs and cats, and get a ferret or a guinea pig, and then go to a cow or a horse or to see a llama,” said Barkema, also the scientific director for the Alberta AMR One Health Consortium.

This is one of the first apps of its kind in the field and Barkema said it will provide vets with considerations they may not have thought of without it.

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Professor Herman Barkema and junior research assistant Dana Jelinski contributed to a new mobile phone app that informs veterinarians of the optimal dosage of antibiotics for a variety of species/conditions in an effort to reduce antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
Professor Herman Barkema and junior research assistant Dana Jelinski contributed to a new mobile phone app that informs veterinarians of the optimal dosage of antibiotics for a variety of species/conditions in an effort to reduce antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Photo by submitted

“One of the main measures of success will be if this initiative takes off globally,” said Dr. John Conly, an infectious-disease specialist at the U of C’s Cumming School of Medicine. “Such a platform can be used as a stepping stone for multiple jurisdictions around the world — a platform for others to emulate globally that facilitates optimal prescribing for use of antimicrobials in animals that are critically important agents for humans.”

The app is available to all members of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, including vets, vet technicians and students. Those who aren’t registered with the association can email Firstline-Clinical Decisions for a download link.

mrodriguez@postmedia.com

Twitter:  @michaelrdrguez

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