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Livestock Antimicrobial Use and You

By Dwayne Summach, PAg, Regional Livestock Specialist, Kindersley

May 2017

When livestock get sick or injured, the people taking care of the animals should take steps to help the sick animals get well. This often includes treating the animal with antibiotics. Many of the antibiotics used to treat livestock illnesses and infections are very similar or closely related to the antibiotics used in human medicine.

All antibiotic usage contributes to the development of antimicrobial resistance. In order to maintain the effectiveness of existing medically important antimicrobials for as long as possible, Health Canada’s Veterinary Drugs Directorate considers having appropriate veterinary oversight to be a key measure toward promoting the prudent use of antimicrobials and minimizing the development and spread of antimicrobial resistance.

Health Canada has categorized antimicrobial drugs based on their importance in human medicine. Category 1 drugs are of very high importance and include products such as Excenel® and Baytril®. Category 2 drugs are of high importance and include products such as Neo-Chlor, Super Scour Calf Boluses, Zuprevo™, Micotil®, Draxxin®, Tylan®, PenPro and Trivetrin®. Category 3 are drugs of medium importance and include the products Nuflor®, Resflor®, Calfspan tablets, sulfamethazine boluses and tetracyclines. Category 4 contains antimicrobials which are not used in human medicine and are considered of low importance. This category includes the ionophores Bovatec® and Rumensin®.

Since 2014, Health Canada has been working on developing policy and regulations to improve veterinary oversight of medically important antimicrobials (Categories 1, 2 and 3) used for animals. The main change is related to adding all remaining medically important antimicrobials for veterinary use to the prescription drug list. In effect, producers will require a prescription from a veterinarian that has a valid client/patient relationship in order to purchase antibiotics, instead of being able to purchase them over the counter. The changes are anticipated to come into effect in early 2018.

Further details on the proposed changes to how antibiotics for veterinary use will be obtained, can be found at Health Canada’s Veterinary Drugs Directorate website. Contact your local veterinarian or Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture Regional Office for assistance in understanding what these proposed changes will mean for your operation.

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