Mike the Mad Biologist

…seven years later? The bad news–for years, cephalosporin antibiotics (antibiotics derived from penicillin, such as ceftiofur, cephalothalin, cefoxitin, and ceftriaxone) were used ‘off-label’ (meaning irresponsibly) in agriculture (italics mine):

Inspectors found a common antibiotic has been misused in animals through practices such as injections into chicken eggs and ordered farmers to stop the unapproved treatments because of the risk to humans.

The drugs, called cephalosporins, were given in unapproved doses to chickens, beef, pigs and dairy cows, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on its Web site yesterday. In chickens, cephalosporins are supposed to be given to day-old chicks for respiratory illnesses, the FDA said.

Doctors use cephalosporins on humans to treat skin infections, stomach infections and pneumonia. Widespread treatment of animals with the same drugs increases the risk that food-borne bacteria, among them salmonella and E. coli, will develop resistance.

“If these drug-resistant bacterial strains infect humans, it is likely that cephalosporins will no longer be effective for treating disease in those people,” the FDA said.

“Given the importance of the cephalosporin class of drugs for treating disease in humans, FDA believes that preserving the effectiveness of such drugs is critical.”

Under FDA rules, veterinarians can prescribe drugs to animals for uses that haven’t been approved unless the agency determines that it poses a risk to public health.

Researchers examined records from programs set up to monitor drug resistance in animals in the United States, European Union and Canada. In the United States, a type of drug-resistant salmonella that didn’t exist among cattle in 1997 was found in about 19 percent of salmonella samples taken from animals ready for slaughter in 2006.

About the same time, drug-resistant salmonella increased to 3.4 percent from about 0.2 percent in samples taken from people.

It’s not clear how many U.S. farms were using the drugs in dangerous ways, the FDA said. Six of the eight chicken hatcheries inspected in 2001 were giving unapproved treatments, according to yesterday’s report.

The kinda so-so news–the FDA will ban this ‘off-label’ misuse, seven years after it was discovered:

FDA Issues Order Prohibiting Extralabel Use of Cephalosporin Antimicrobial Drugs in Food-Producing Animals

On July 3, 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a final rule that prohibits the extralabel use of cephalosporin antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals, including, but not limited to cattle, swine, chickens, and turkeys. This rule will help further protect consumers against antimicrobial-resistant strains of zoonotic foodborne bacterial pathogens.

By law, FDA may issue a prohibition order if evidence shows that extralabel use of a drug in food-producing animals has caused, or is likely to cause, a public health risk. In this case, FDA has gathered evidence showing that the extralabel use of cephalosporins in food-producing animals is likely to contribute to the emergence of resistance and compromise human therapies. Given the importance of the cephalosporin class of drugs for treating disease in humans, FDA believes that preserving the effectiveness of such drugs is critical. Therefore, FDA believes it is necessary to take action to limit the extent to which extralabel use of cephalosporins in food-producing animals may be contributing to the emergence of resistant variants.

The prohibition of extralabel use of cephalosporin antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals will protect the public health by preserving the effectiveness of cephalosporin-class drugs for the treatment of human infections.

Comments on the rule may be submitted until September 2, 2008. The rule will go into effect on October 1, 2008.

Final Rule, New Animal Drugs; Cephalosporin Drugs; Extralabel Animal Drug Use; Order of Prohibition, July 3, 2008

And from this site, here are frequencies of resistance in Salmonella to two different cephalosporins:

ceftiofurresistancev1

cephalothalinresistancev1

Seven years….

Comments

  1. #1 jj
    July 14, 2008

    Once again ,the overuse of antibiotics starts to show it’s ugly head…

  2. #2 Jeb, FCD
    July 14, 2008

    How is this not criminal? How are farmers allowed to indiscriminately give high-powered abx to their animals? Industry has been at the fore-front of antibiotic resistance, despite what we mere consumers have been led to believe.

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