CANADA: B.C. poultry industry warned to halt use of antibiotic
Posted: November 26th, 2011 - 6:17pm
Source: Vancouver Sun
The Public Health Agency of Canada is warning B.C. poultry farmers and veterinarians to stop using a bovine antibiotic on chickens.
The agency believes the practice is behind a significant spike in drug-resistant Campylobacter bacteria found in chicken tested from grocery stores.
The bacteria are resistant to an antibiotic commonly used to treat respiratory infections in human beings and cattle.
The dramatic spike in the bacteria was first noticed during routine sampling of B.C. chicken from grocery stores in 2009. Levels have remained stubbornly above normal in this province ever since.
Positive tests for the resistant strain of Campylobacter in retail chicken have ranged as high as 40 per cent in B.C. and 28 per cent in Saskatchewan compared with an average of less than four per cent in the other provinces monitored by the Canadian Integrated Program for Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance.
Campylobacter is the most common food-borne pathogen in Canada; it is usually associated with substandard food handling and consumption of undercooked chicken.
The rate of human Campylobacter poisoning in B.C. has been about 30 per cent above the national average during the past 10 years, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control.
People who contract drug-resistant Campylobacter from contaminated food can become more severely ill with diarrhea, fever and abdominal pain than those who get typical Campylobacter, the bulletin stated.
A bulletin to be released this week by CIPARS attributes the increase in drug-resistant Campylobacter in B.C. chicken to use of the antimicrobial drug fluoroquinolone. The agency says veterinary fluoroquinolones labelled for cattle are being used “off-label” to prevent salmonella in chicken in breeder flocks.
Health Canada requires fluoroquinolone-based veterinary drugs for cattle to carry a warning not to use them in any other species. Public health authorities want to curb the use of fluoroquinolone in chicken because the risk of spreading drug-resistance to those medications could render them ineffective in human medicine.
It is not unusual for veterinarians to use antibiotics labelled for one species on another animal species, but steps are being taken within the poultry industry to stamp out the practice.
However, veterinarians are approved to prescribe veterinary and human drugs according to the recommendations of Health Canada or off-label at their discretion, according to John Brocklebank, deputy registrar of the College of Veterinarians of B.C.