There is no doubt that antibiotics play a vital role in the treatment of many animal diseases.
However, like many aspects of agriculture, there is increasing pressure from outside interestgroups to restrict their use in food producing animals. To date, veterinarians and their clientshave access to a wide range of effective drugs. If these drugs are used judiciously andappropriately, there should be little reason for further limitations on their supply and use. Thekey words here are “judiciously” and “appropriately” – let me labour on these themes a littlemore.
It is generally accepted that most infectious diseases in animals result from adverseinteractions between the animal, its environment, the management system, and the agent(bacterium/virus) causing the infection. It is neither judicious nor appropriate to try and bombthe bejesus out of a bug with the latest and greatest antibiotic (or even the oldest andcheapest) when there is underlying management or environmental issues making the animalssusceptible to the infection. There are many circumstances where a few simplemanagement/environment changes can prevent a disease occurring – the bug that causes it isstill around but the animals just don’t succumb to it. Good examples are mastitis/high cellcounts in dairy herds and many outbreaks of scouring in poddy calves.
Based on the old “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” maxim, I consider it injudicious andinappropriate to rush to the newest drug on the market when the current ones are still workingeffectively. The issue here is one of bacterial resistance to antibiotics. If common oldprocaine penicillin still cures footrot in your dairy cows (and the laneways etc that contributeto the problem are up to scratch), why go to a different and vastly more expensive class ofdrug to treat the problem? The danger in this practice, as I see it, is the very real likelihood ofresistance developing in “non-target” bacteria that can create a problem in other areas. Letme use salmonella as an example – we have some dairy herds where Salmonella typhimuriumcauses scours and deaths in poddy calves and in mature cows. In some of these herds wehave observed the resistance pattern change over the years reflecting the different antibioticsthat have been used on the farm. We currently have only 2 or 3 antibiotics that remaineffective against this strain of salmonella in these herds. If we use one of these drugsroutinely to treat footrot, we could easily end up with the herd salmonella population resistantto it. For future salmonella outbreaks there will be one less effective drug in our armoury.
It’s worth repeating that our continued access to drugs like antibiotics will be determined byparties outside the animal industries. Their judgment will be largely based on how responsiblywe use them. If we can demonstrate that they are used judiciously and appropriately as part ofan overall disease management strategy I trust we will get to keep them. If we use themindiscriminately as the panacea for all ills, we deserve to lose them.


Vil 32 no. 1, 2008.pmd

BANGLADESH J CHILD HEALTH 2008; VOL 32 (1) : 10-16 Comparative Efficacy of Nebulized L-adrenaline versus Salbutamol in Infants with Acute Bronchiolitis Abstract Background: Bronchiolitis is one of the most prevalent diseases of infancy for which large number of infants need hospitalization, particularly during winter period. RSV (Respiratory syncitial virus) is the principal causative pat


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