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Therapeutic Use of Antibiotics

Therapeutic use of antibiotics refers to their use to treat clinically ill animals.  Although the importance of good management and preventive medicine should not be underestimated, there are many disease conditions in animals that can only be addressed by antimicrobial therapy.  Therapeutic use of antibiotics in animals is probably a little more complicated than it is for human medicine, given the variations between species and the reasons for which animals are owned and are being treated. 


Ideally, antimicrobial susceptibility testing is done to determine the available options for therapy.  It is important to note, however, that bacterial susceptibility is not the only consideration when selecting an antibiotic from a range of options.  Aside from the susceptibility and species of the invading pathogen, factors to consider in the appropriate selection of antimicrobial therapies should include the drug’s attributes (such as pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics, toxicity, tissue distribution), the host characteristics (such as age, species, immune status), the accountability to the public and other issues such as cost effectiveness. 

Each of these issues is important in making sound decision regarding the advisability of each antimicrobial therapy.  Details on each of these considerations, although not covered here, should be further explored.


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Some Points to Consider in Making Antibiotic-Related Decisions


  1. Does the condition necessitate treatment?
  2. Are there other options besides treatment?
  3. Will the potential consequences outweigh the benefit of treatment?
  4. What is the host species involved? Is it worth treating?
  5. Will treatment work for the pathogen involved?
  6. Are there any risks to public health when this is done?


  1. Which drug would be best against the condition of interest?
  2. What is the optimal dosage, duration and route for the drug of choice?
  3. Will the drug’s attributes work for the current condition at hand?
  4. What are the hosts’ attributes? Will the drug not put the animals at further risk given these?
  5. What are the pathogen’s attributes and where is it?    Will the drug s gain effective access to it?
  6. Will the public be put to further risks with these choices?
  7. Will the treatment be cost-effective?