Know­ing cor­rect cure for dis­ease


I RE­CENTLY at­tended the 10th Boehringer In­gel­heim Ex­pert Fo­rum on Farm An­i­mal Well-be­ing in Rome. It was an in­ter­est­ing and thought-pro­vok­ing con­fer­ence and I came away in­spired by the high class of speak­ers, en­thused to pro­mote an­i­mal well-be­ing in the dairy in­dus­try in Aus­tralia.

A global and holis­tic ap­proach is nec­es­sary, one that en­com­passes the hu­man and an­i­mal elements of well-be­ing whilst pro­mot­ing a pos­i­tive im­age of our in­dus­try to the con­sumer.

In an era where end­less in­for­ma­tion is at our fin­ger­tips, there needs to be transpar- ency be­tween con­sumer and pro­ducer, and an­i­mal wel­fare sits at the fore­front of this re­la­tion­ship.

One vi­tal as­pect of an­i­mal wel­fare is the prompt recog­ni­tion of dis­ease and the timely ad­min­is­tra­tion of the cor­rect medicine for that dis­ease.

Amongst some pro- duc­ers, the very real con­cern of an­timi­cro­bial re­sis­tance has led to fear and con­fu­sion over the us­age of all in­jectable medicines.

With the risk of po­ten­tially stat­ing the ob­vi­ous, I thought it would be worth­while to go ‘back to ba­sics’ and de­fine these in­jectable prod­ucts at the pri­mary level.

This will help pro­duc­ers to make in­formed de­ci­sions (in con­junc­tion with their ve­teri­nar­ian), as to which treat­ment plan would be most suit­able for spe­cific dis­eases on their farm.

This ar­ti­cle will dis­cuss the terms an­timi­cro­bial, an­tibi­otic, an­tipar­a­sitic, anti-in­flam­ma­to­ries and vac­cines.


An an­timi­cro­bial is an agent that kills or in­hibits the growth of a micro­organ­ism. They are classed ac­cord­ing to their tar­get micro­organ­ism and in­clude an­tibi­otics (also known as an­tibac­te­ri­als), an­ti­fun­gals, an­tivi­rals and an­tipar­a­sitics. An­ti­fun­gals and an­tivi­rals are not rou­tinely used in the dairy in­dus­try.


An an­tibi­otic is a type of an­timi­cro­bial drug which tar­gets bac­te­ria. They are used in the treat­ment and pre­ven­tion of bac­te­rial in­fec­tions by ei­ther killing (bac­te­ri­ci­dal) or in­hibit­ing the growth of (bac­te­rio­static) bac­te­ria.

They are also classed as be­ing broad-spec­trum or nar­row-spec­trum. Broad-spec­trum an­tibi­otics are ef­fec­tive against a wide range of bac­te­ria, whereas nar­row spec­trum an­tibi­otics tar­get spe­cific types of bac­te­ria.

De­spite com­mon mis­con­cep­tions, there are no ‘stronger’ an­tibi­otics; what is im­por­tant is that the cor­rect an­tibi­otic is used to treat the pathogen present. This can be de­ter­mined by ap­pro­pri­ate di­ag­nos­tic test­ing by your ve­teri­nar­ian.

An­tibi­otics are in­ef­fec­tive against vi­ral or fun­gal in­fec­tions. In the last cen­tury, the overuse of an­tibi­otics has led to the de­vel­op­ment of re­sis­tant path­o­genic bac­te­ria in both hu­mans and an­i­mals.

There is global pres­sure to re­duce an­tibi­otic us­age in both hu­man and vet­eri­nary medicine in an at­tempt to slow the rate of de­vel­op­ing re­sis­tance and re­duce the threat to pub­lic health.

It is im­por­tant to note that many of the an­tibi­otics used in the treat­ment of an­i­mals are iden­ti­cal to those used to treat in­fec- tions in hu­mans.

Ex­am­ples of an­tibi­otics used in the dairy in­dus­try in­clude peni­cillin and oxyte­tra­cy­cline. An­tibi­otics used in cat­tle tend to be in an in­jectable form but some are for­mu­lated to be given orally, par­tic­u­larly in calves.


These drugs are also an­timi­cro­bials and are ef­fec­tive against in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal par­a­sites. These par­a­sites in­clude pro­to­zoa (such as cryp­tosporidia), gas­troin­testi­nal worms and ec­topar­a­sites (such as lice and ticks).

They tend to have a nar­rower range of ac­tiv­ity and are usu­ally ef­fec­tive against a lim­ited num­ber of par­a­sites within a par­tic­u­lar class. They are used widely in the dairy in­dus­try, par­tic­u­larly in young­stock, for the con­trol of worms, coc­cid­io­sis, cryp­tosporid­io­sis and lice.

There are many dif­fer­ent for­mu­la­tions of an­tipar­a­sitic which can be given orally, in­jected or used top­i­cally as a ‘pouron’.

Ex­am­ples of an­tipar­a­sitics used in the dairy in­dus­try in­clude Halocur® (Coop­ers An­i­mal Health), Bay­cox® (Bayer) and “drenches” (e.g. Cy­dectin®, Vir­bac; Dec­tomax®, Zoetis; Panacur®, Coop­ers An­i­mal Health).


Anti-in­flam­ma­tory drugs be­long to a group of drugs called anal­gesics and re­lieve pain by re­duc­ing in­flam­ma­tion. Other anal­gesics in­clude opi­oids which act on the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem to block pain.

Opi­oids are not rou­tinely used in the dairy in­dus­try. Anti-in­flam­ma­to­ries are also known as pain re­liev­ers or NSAIDs (non-steroidal an­ti­in­flam­ma­tory drugs).

They are com­monly used in adult cat­tle and young­stock to help al­le­vi­ate pain and in­flam­ma­tion in elec­tive and emer­gency pro­ce­dures. De­spite the many names for these drugs and the com­mon pre­fix (“anti-“) they do not fight bac­te­rial, vi­ral or par­a­sitic in­fec­tions and de­vel­op­ment of re­sis­tance is not ap­pli­ca­ble.

Re­search has shown that their use has had a ben­e­fi­cial ef­fect on out-

come, re­cov­ery time and an­i­mal wel­fare. Ex­am­ples of anti-in­flam­ma­to­ries com­monly used in dairy cat­tle in­clude ke­to­pro­fen (e.g. Key In­jec­tion®, Ceva An­i­mal Health), meloxi­cam (e.g. Me­ta­cam®, Boehringer In­gel­heim) and flu­nixin meg­lu­mine (e.g. Flu­nixon®, Nor­brook).


Vac­cines are in­cluded in this dis­cus­sion as they are in­jectable prod­ucts and are com­monly used on dairy farms. Vac­cines work by stim­u­lat­ing the im­mune sys­tem, the nat­u­ral dis­ease-fight­ing sys­tem of the body.

They are de­rived from a killed or mod­i­fied part of the dis­ease-caus­ing or­gan­ism (pathogen) and as a re­sult a spe­cific vac­cine is re­quired for a par­tic­u­lar dis­ease. Vac­cines do not fight bac­te­rial, vi­ral or fun­gal in­fec­tions di­rectly (com­pared to an­tibi­otics).

In­stead they are used as part of a pre­ven­ta­tive treat­ment plan for a given dis­ease. Ex­am­ples of vac­cines used in the dairy in­dus­try in­clude Ul­travac® 7-in-1 (Zoetis), Pes­ti­guard® (Zoetis) and Bovilis-S® (Coop­ers An­i­mal Health).

All in­jectable prod­ucts dif­fer from each other in their route of ad­min­is­tra­tion, du­ra­tion of ac­tion and with­hold­ing pe­riod. They will also have dif­fer­ent stor­age re­quire­ments. It is im­por­tant to al­ways read the la­bel prior to use.

• Gemma Chuck is a con­sul­tant with Apiam An­i­mal Health.

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