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.