Antibiotics used in animals ‘cures’ disease in study

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Some experts consider new antibiotics a matter of life and death

Two clinical trials have shown that antibiotics can dramatically reduce the spread of infections in livestock.

The studies published in the journals Lancet Infectious Diseases and Annals of Internal Medicine compared safety of using the drugs against keeping animals healthy in the first place.

The world produces too many animals that need drugs and antibiotics at every stage of their lives, the study authors say.

“These results are very important, particularly for improving animal health in the field of biosecurity,” said one of the authors, Prof Paul Fenton.

So far, the health effects of antibiotic overuse on human beings have been most obvious in Europe and the US.

However, according to experts, diseases like tuberculosis and HIV are starting to emerge more frequently in developing countries, and more extensively drug resistant infections (IRS) – serious multi-drug resistant infections – are starting to appear.

Iris Perry and her colleagues at BioNTech, the manufacturer of the drugs in this study, and Pfizer, the US pharmaceutical company that distributed the drugs, say the results are good news for farmers, the world’s poor and the wider public.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Antibiotics are at the centre of a global debate on sustainability and the future of drugs

Pfizer also produced drugs in the study. In response to the report, the company says it “strongly supports the call for greater vigilance and closer monitoring by producers, animal health organisations and the public for the development of IRS, and offers support for practical solutions, such as locking antimicrobial rooms”.

According to the studies, the improved bacteria levels in the treated cattle meant there were nearly 20% fewer deaths during the trials.

Pfizer’s drug Pikardi was put to the test in tests on a specific strain of pneumonia in 523 wild and 1,249 caged ostriches.

The chimpanzee (ST135) strain of pneumonia is frequently diagnosed in ostrich breeder Ruth Smith’s Gloucestershire farm.

Covidozolea needed only a trace amount of the drug compared to doses far higher for the wild ostrich. It also worked better in the trials than a Pfizer product, Poniosin.

Animals that received the Purdue were producing 19% fewer spores of the bacteria, the human equivalent of nearly half of what is needed to create a vaccine.

Dr Valerie Stijn from CSHL [Corporation of Chemical Biology] says “it’s great to see antibiotic resistance becoming a major issue around the world”.

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