Antibiotics in animals overview

April 23, 2015

3 Min Read
Antibiotics in animals overview

The need for antibiotics
Bacteria and microbes are found everywhere in the environment, which means animals are exposed to the potential for disease whether they’re raised on open range or indoors. Antibiotics are used to kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria that cause disease.

Veterinarians and farmers use a variety of tools to protect the health and well-being of animals, including antibiotics. Veterinarians are uniquely qualified to determine how best to treat, control and prevent animals diseases to keep animals healthy, which is essential to both animal well-being and food safety.

Not all antibiotics are alike
Antibiotics can be grouped into three broad categories based upon approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (U.S. FDA): approved for human-use only, approved for animal-use only, or approved for use in both humans and animals.

• Human-use-only antibiotics — These antibiotics are not approved to use for animals, creating a reserve of unique antibiotics for humans

• Animal-use-only antibiotics — These antibiotics have been developed to treat specific health requirements of animals and are not used in human medicine

• Shared-use antibiotics — are approved for use in animals and humans

Antibiotics help provide animal care in four ways
Antibiotics, used responsibly, along with good animal-care practices, help enhance food safety, animal health and well-being, and sustainability. Using antibiotics responsibly means treating an animal that is sick with the right dose at the right time. Veterinarians and farmers use antibiotics for animals in four ways:

1. To treat animals diagnosed with an illness,

2. To control spread of illness in a herd or flock,

3. To prevent illness in healthy animals when exposure is likely, and

4. To ensure healthy growth by maintaining the right balance of bacteria for improved nutrient utilization. For livestock, veterinarians and producers are voluntarily narrowing this type of use to animal-use-only antibiotics — those not used in human medicine — to protect human health and the long-term effectiveness of antibiotics.

Taking steps to ensure the responsible and continued use of antibiotics
As the public becomes increasingly interested in knowing more about how food is produced, food producers take seriously their responsibility to share the facts. To ensure responsible use of antibiotics, veterinarians and producers are implementing broad measures to study animal antibiotic use, and the implications and risks as well as how to minimize them. Today, there are three areas of progress to help assure the continued, responsible use of antibiotics in animals:

1. Narrowing antibiotic use — In the U.S., by 2017, veterinarians and producers will eliminate growth-promotion use of antibiotics approved for both humans and animals as defined in U.S. FDA Guidance 209 and 213.

2. Animal-only antibiotic innovations — animal-health organizations are moving toward developing antibiotics used only in animals.

3. More visibility and data — The U.S. National Antimicrobial Monitoring System will provide more data on antibiotic resistance through additional U.S. Department of Agriculture resourcing, leading to more in-depth evaluation and continued improvement.

Courtesy of Elanco Animal Health.

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