Which Antibiotics Are Used in Animals in Europe and Why?

EU - A survey has been published on the antibiotics most commonly used and for what conditions in cattle, pigs, horses, dogs and cats by vets in 25 European Union countries. More than 60 per cent of all indications for which antibiotics were used in pigs were for respiratory disease or diarrhoea.
calendar icon 9 October 2014
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The Heads of Medicines Agencies and the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe undertook a survey to gain an insight into European prescribing of antibiotics for animals, in particular to highlight the diseases for which antibiotics are most commonly said to be prescribed and which different classes, including human critically important antibiotics (CIAs).

The study has been published in Veterinary Record by Nancy De Briyne of the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe and others at the Veterinary Medicines Directorate in the UK and Institute for State Control of Veterinary Biologicals and Medicines in the Czech Republic.

They explain that the survey was completed by 3,004 practitioners from 25 European countries.

They found that many older antibiotics (e.g. penicillins and tetracyclines) are cited most frequently as the prescribed classes to treat the main food-producing species.

The frequency of citation of non-CIAs predominates. CIAs are mostly frequently cited to be prescribed for: urinary diseases in cats (62 per cent), respiratory diseases in cattle (45 per cent), diarrhoea in cattle and pigs (respectively, 29 per cent and 34 per cent), locomotion disorders in cattle (31 per cent), postpartum dysgalactia syndrome complex in pigs (31 per cent) and dental disease in dogs (36 per cent).

Antibiotic Use in Pigs

The most commonly mentioned indications of the 512 valid ‘species-indication-antibiotic’ entries received, where antibiotics were said to be administered to pigs were for respiratory diseases and diarrhoea, each with 31 per cent.

Streptococcus suis accounted for a further 17 per cent and among the remaining nine per cent were (in order of times mentioned): urinary or urogenital infections, erysipelas, wounds, infection, Glasser disease, actinobacillosis, sepsis, Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) and footrot.

For respiratory diseases, 88 per cent of the treatments mentioned were non-CIAs, mostly tetracyclines (47 per cent) and penicillins (21 per cent). For diarrhoea, the proportion of CIAs mentioned was higher at 34 per cent, polymyxins (30 per cent), macrolides (22 per cent) and (fluoro)quinolones (12 per cent).

In the total population of pigs (including piglets), the relative mention of use of CIAs to non-CIAs was 20 per cent compared with 80 per cent, with penicillins (33 per cent), tetracyclines (17 per cent), polymyxin (mostly colistin) (10 per cent), macrolides (10 per cent), potentiated sulphonamides (nine per cent) and (fluoro)quinolones (eight per cent).

General Conclusions

Clear ‘preferences’ between countries can be observed between antibiotic classes, remarked De Briyne and co-authors.

The use of national formularies and guidance helps to drive responsible use of antibiotics and can significantly reduce the extent of use of CIAs, they added.

A more widespread introduction of veterinary practice antibiotic prescribing policies and monitoring obedience to these should ensure more widespread compliance with responsible use guidelines, concluded the researchers.

Reference: De Briyne, N., J. Atkinson, S.P. Borriello and L. Pokludová. 2014. Antibiotics used most commonly to treat animals in Europe. Veterinary Record. 175:325 doi:10.1136/vr.102462

Further Reading

You can view the full report by clicking here.
For more information on the diseases mentioned, click here.

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