Protecting Against Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria-2017-09-18

Protecting Against Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

September 13, 2017


Antibiotics have long been used to treat disease by slowing down or destroying the growth of bacteria. Some bacteria, however, are able to develop a resistance to the antibiotics once used to treat them.




When bacteria are antibiotic resistant, the microorganisms change in a way to cause the drug to lose its effectiveness. This allows the bacteria to multiply and the disease to fortify. Bacteria can become resistant when antibiotics are:


  • Used over an extended time period
  • Administered in too low of a dose
  • Inappropriately prescribed
  • Not taken as per directions
  • Used in a widespread and uncontrolled manner.


Connecting Antibiotic Resistance and Food Production


A developing concern over antibiotic resistance involves production animals. Research has connected the use of antibiotics on food animals to the development of antibiotic-resistant diseases in humans.


Antibiotic resistance does occur naturally, but the misuse of antibiotics in both humans and animals has been found to accelerate the process. A concern that surrounds food animals and antibiotic use arises from antibiotic resistance connected to infections in humans—in particular, the infections caused by a drug-resistant foodborne bacteria that developed in farm animals as a result of the overuse of antibiotics.


Within the United States, approximately 80% of all of the antibiotics sold are used in meat production.  Large-scale animal farms, where the majority of these drugs are administered, often apply antibiotics in small doses to not only prevent disease, but also to improve an animal’s weight gain.  This nontherapeutic, but routine use of antibiotics was a topic of concern when looking at the connection between the growing claim of antibiotic resistance in humans and the way meat is produced.


Veterinary Feed Directive


In order to combat antibiotic resistance, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken steps to ensure the responsible use of certain human medically important antibiotics.  These steps include:


  • Reducing or eliminating the use of growth promotion and human medically important antibiotics
  • Expanding the list of feed-grade antibiotics, classifying them as Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) drugs.


Prior to taking these steps, feed-grade antibiotics were available for over-the-counter purchase without the permission or approval of a veterinarian. In January of this year, the FDA moved all human medically important feed-grade antibiotics to the VFD drug process. Now, in order to obtain these antibiotics, a working veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) must be established.


The veterinarian is responsible for:


  • Advising clients on the medications that are appropriate
  • Providing a written VFD order for the feed product, with a renewal based on FDA guidelines.


The guidelines for following VFD rules can be viewed at:


New Generation


Even though there is a definite need, the search for a newer generation antibacterial, one that acts upon antibiotic resistant bacteria, has not yet been uncovered. Research continues on the development of new age antibiotics and techniques to tackle drug resistant bacteria.


While some bacteria are naturally unaffected, others are capable of developing antibiotic resistance. Veterinarians and clients must all work together to treat animals in a way that protects both humans and animals from antibiotic resistant bacteria.


At Henry Schein, we believe the more information veterinarians provide clients, the more likely your clients will return. Here’s some additional information to pass on to your clients who have dairy cattle—Dairy Cattle Udder Hygiene.


For you, the veterinarian, Henry Schein offers this free white paper, Obstacles and Opportunities Facing Livestock Veterinarians.


Contact your Henry Schein representative for additional information to help clients online or at (855) SCHEIN1 (724-3461).