Message Number: FHL12589 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Sukie Crandall
Date: 2010-12-11 22:25:12 UTC
Subject: [ferrethealth] antibiotic resistance
To: fhl <>, Ferret Mailing List <ferret-l@LISTSERV.FERRETMAILINGLIST.ORG>

An English language version of the Swedish Veterinary Association's
guideline on the clinical use of antibiotics:

As everyone knows by now there are antibiotic resistant infections.
Where confusion happens for many people who are not in a biological or
medical field is the people think that they themselves or the pets
develop the resistance. Not so. What develop the resistance are the
bacteria. Now, this can mean trouble in more than one way. First
off, all of us mammals, two or four footed, have a large number of non-
us beings living on and in us. We have parasites and symbiotic life
forms, and even some which are just hitchhikers and don't help or hurt
us inside us and on our skin all the time, and quite a lot of them.

Here are some of the things which can go wrong when antibiotics are
used wrong:

1. When a symbiotic form becomes resistant you'd think that would be
a good thing and sometimes it is, but other times it can lead to a
population explosion which causes health problems, sometimes serious
ones. So, then you are in a hard place because you want those life
forms but you want fewer of them. Some of these are not a problem if
they are where they belong but are a major problem if they get where
they do not belong, such as a normal vaginal bacterium in some
mammals, beta hemolytic strep, which is good for vaginal pH in the
right proportion but bad for it if over-populated, and which really
cause woes by getting into the bladder where they cause bleeding and
from which they can sometimes move upward toward the kidneys.

2. When one of the other types of bacteria in you or your animals
develops antibiotic resistance infections can start, wane and start
again over and over from the same population of that type of
bacterium. So, you can think that you are getting infected over and
over but actually the population is crashing and then blooming
repeatedly. It can knock the stuffing out of anyone, furred or not,
when that happens.

3. Contagious bacterial species will also form resistance, and in
that case the individuals who catch those communicable illnesses will
be harder to treat. That's more commonly the pets' people for some of
those diseases but not all illnesses. (That, BTW, is why there is so
much noise on the human health sites about salmonella these days
because it is harder and harder to treat and the forms are more and
more resistant largely due to the heavy antibiotic use needed for
poultry survival in industrial farming.) That is not to say that the
illnesses are easier to catch, though humans get salmonella pretty
easily, because ferrets are less likely to contract it. For example,
in ferrets salmonella is still an illness mostly of compromised
ferrets such as sick ones, old ones, very young ones, ones on steroids
or chemotherapy, basically ones whose immune systems are messed up.
So, there are other types of food borne ills which are a greater
concern for ferrets' ease of contacting them, although those diseases
are not as common. So, with ferrets the concern with salmonella is
more that it is becoming so hard to treat when it is caught. Yes,
there are other examples and probably better ones that slip my mind
right now, but the mistakes of the huge industrialized poultry farms
(and less often the smaller, private ones for any type of animal) have
really contributed heavily to this problem so make it a example all
should remember reading about at times in relation to any poultry
products, hence relatable as an example.

Now, how do the bacteria become resistant to antibiotics? Bacteria
manage evolution in what appear to be short periods of time for a
human. In just a day's time many generations can be created and
replicate. That means that the survivors who are replicating have
survived a number of challenges, including the medical ones we put
them through. They are tougher than the bacteria which were killed
off in relation to those challenges, including the specific
antibiotics that were used.

If antibiotics are used incorrectly then some of the bacteria are
killed off BUT there are survivors who were not killed by the
medications and those are what go on to replicate. Their tougher
genetics are what get passed on. So, afterward the population of
bacteria are less likely to be affected by the medication because they
inherited their resistance.

There are multiple ways this can happen including:

1. Medicating when medication is not needed. For example, viral
diseases are not affected by antibiotics. The reasons that ferrets
and other beings like humans are sometimes treated with antibiotics
when a bacterial illness is present are:
A. It isn't yet known to be a viral disease
and might be bacterial.
B. There may be a high risk of secondary
bacterial infection, or may already be a
secondary bacterial infection.
C. (and this may be the most common at least
in human med) The clients or patients agitate
to "do something".

2. The medication is not suited to the infection. A culture with
challenge testing is the way to go to find out which antibiotics will
work best but that sometimes takes time and is not always easy to do.

3. Certain medications also are better for infections in different
locations. That depends on how the body processes them and spread
them around, which differs among med types, so now you know one of the
reasons why there some antibiotics which are better suited for
tackling a UTI, for example, compared to some alternatives.

4. The people give or take the medication wrong, using the wrong
timing which allows the more resistant bacteria windows in which to
replicate more, or stopping the medication too early which allows the
surviving bacteria which are more antibiotic resistant to repopulate.
Remember that what is just a few hours for us can be quite a few
generations for some bacteria.

5. The medication itself may be compromised,
A. for example the old drugs past expiration dates
which we have all read of being sold by
some disreputable places, often for less money.
(There especially has been a lot in the
media on internet sales of such drugs through the years.)
B. There are other ways that medication can be
compromised. Some should not be given
with certain food types. Some must be shielded
from water or saliva. Many can not be exposed to
much light. Some can not be stored in a refrigerator,
while others can not be stored at room temperature.
Many can not deal with more than a short time of high heat
exposure. Many can not deal with humidity. The drugs
differ on these scores. What is right for one drug is not
right for another one.

6. Some medications can not be given with certain supplements or
certain herbs, or certain
other medications without compromising them. (and in some cases the
effect is increased
which can also cause trouble so be sure the vet knows everything that
is given.

7. The medication is compromised by being given wrong. Here are some
easy examples and you will think of more: One that should not be
given with iron should not be given with meat. One that should not be
given with calcium should not be given with milk. One that should not
be exposed to water should not be given with baby food. One that
should not be given with fats should not be given with oils. The list
can go on, and varies depending on the med type since they differ.

8. The dose may be wrong.
A. If a medication does not have a cutting line on
it then that medication is NOT designed to
be split and will not have the medication evenly
distributed, That means that if someone
splits an antibiotic which is like that the doses
will sometimes be low enough to allow the
resistant bacteria to begin replicating well and
taking hold. Such medications have to be
ground and then very, very, very well mixed, then
given in the right measurement in the right
type of medium for that drug.
B. There are certainly other ways that doses can
be wrong, for example, some syringes
used to list BOTH ml and other units, but
C. more commonly people do not understand
decimal points and think that 0.1 is the same
as 1.0 or vice versa. Doses can also be wrong if
the concentration is different than the dose
is calculated for. For example if a med has 1 mg
of the med in each ml of fluid but the dosing
amount given is the amount which should be given
for a different concentration that has 3 mgs of med
in each ml then the result will be the ferret getting
only 1/3 of the medication needed.

Anyway, that is just a little bit on antibiotic resistance for those
who did not previously understand it, and I am sure that the
guidelines will be read by many here to pull out useful help. I look
forward to getting to them myself.

I hope that this is helpful and that my trying to create it rapidly
did not compromise the write-up.

Sukie (not a vet)

Recommended ferret health links:
all ferret topics:

"All hail the procrastinators for they shall rule the world tomorrow."
(2010, Steve Crandall)


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