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Test Before You Treat: How to help prevent the next global health challenge


Experts warned us for years about the risk of a pandemic and our lack of preparation for one. After yelling into a void of disinterest for years, the infectious diseases specialists, microbiologists and epidemiologists have earned the right to say, “I told you so”; and yet no one could feel anything but sadness for the outcome we are experiencing. What these experts would really like, now that everyone is paying attention, is to highlight another serious threat to global health: antimicrobial resistance.

The equation is simple – increased (and particularly ineffective) use of antimicrobials leads to increased resistance in microorganisms. This can mean otherwise simple infections become chronic, serious or life threatening, with higher rates of treatment failure, increased costs of treatment, and fewer effective antibiotics [1]. It is a ‘One Health’ problem that impacts human health, animal health, and the environment. Tackling the problem therefore requires a coordinated approach across all sectors [2]. AMR Vet Collective (https://www.amrvetcollective.com/) is a new resource to help veterinarians do their part in making informed, evidence-based decisions in diagnosing, prescribing and managing infectious animal patients so they can achieve better patient care with a reduced risk of antimicrobial resistance.

There has been considerable awareness and restrictions around the use of antimicrobials in farm animals in Australia, due to the risk of antimicrobial resistant organisms entering the food chain. However greater attention is needed in the companion animal sector where antimicrobial use is more common and animals live in closer proximity with humans. “Two common clinical problems in dogs and cats which are often treated with antimicrobials with little or no diagnostic evidence for doing so are skin disease and lower urinary tract disease”, veterinary microbiologist and founder of AMR Vet Collective, Professor Jacqueline Norris says. “The use of simple in-house diagnostic tests combined with knowledge about commonly implicated pathogens can help guide the practitioner as to whether antimicrobial use is warranted”.

In this video, Jacqueline demonstrates how to perform a urine wet prep including preparation of the sample, set up of the microscope and interpretation of the findings. It’s a terrific, simple in-house test that is reportedly underutilised in general practice, perhaps due to a lack of confidence among veterinary staff in successfully performing it. With this detailed instruction from Jacqui, we hope to see practitioners performing one at every consult for urinary tract disease, and improved antimicrobial stewardship for this aspect of veterinary practice.

About the Presenter

Professor Jacqueline Norris is a specialist in Veterinary Microbiology and Infectious Diseases who co-ordinates the teaching of these subjects at The Sydney School of Veterinary Science and leads the microbiology area of the Veterinary Pathology Diagnostic Service at the University of Sydney. Amongst her many research projects, Jacqui is passionate about the development and evaluation of antimicrobial stewardship programs in veterinary practice and is one of the founders of the AMR Vet Collective (along with Associate Professor Jane Heller and Dr Kellie Thomas).

Need to know more?

Check out AMR Vet Collective for further information about antimicrobial stewardship guidelines and a wonderful collection of resources relating to the field of veterinary microbiology and infectious diseases. There is a continuing education program soon to come. Versatile Vet is a proud contributor to this important cause – you will find several of our videos on the site. See https://www.amrvetcollective.com/home/amr-vet-collective

The Australian Government recently published a “One Health Master Action Plan to Support Australia’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy- 2020 and beyond” where you can read about the focus areas for each sector to help combat AMR. See https://www.amr.gov.au/resources/one-health-master-action-plan-australias-national-antimicrobial-resistance-strategy-2020

The Versatile Vet video library has a number of videos providing helpful tips and tricks for performing common diagnostic procedures in all species. Visit https://www.versatilevet.com/videos/ to see more.


[1] AMR Vet Collective. What does AMR mean for veterinary practice? [Website], https://www.amrvetcollective.com/home/about-amr/ (accessed 24 March 2021)

[2] Antimicrobial Resistance. One Health Master Action Plan to Support Australia’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy- 2020 and beyond [Website], https://www.amr.gov.au/news/one-health-master-action-plan-support-australias-national-antimicrobial-resistance-strategy (accessed 24 March 2021)



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