The Doctor Is In!
In the news in the last few years there has been serious discussion of “Super Bugs”. By now everyone should be familiar with the concept of the “Super Bug”. The most well-known of the super bugs is MRSA, pronounced ‘mersa’; MRSA is an acronym for Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus. These bacteria have become resistant to nearly all antibiotics. There are many more bacteria that have developed resistance to methicillin and several other antibiotics. The significance of antibiotic resistance is that infection with some of the resistant bacteria can be life threatening because there is no medication that can treat these bacteria. In most cases hospitalization with intravenous (IV) antibiotics is necessary to treat these infections.
Unfortunately, we are seeing strains of bacteria becoming resistant to other strong antibiotics. One bacterium I commonly see that is resistant to several strong antibiotics including enrofloxacin (Baytril) is Pseudomonas spp. When I culture this bacterium I will hospitalize the bird to administer injectable antibiotics. The most common sources of Pseudomonas are water bowls and wet foods left in the cage for too long. Water bowls need to be replaced by water bottles because bottles are more sanitary. Wet foods need to be removed from the cage in 2-3 hours.
Antibiotic resistance is caused by over use of antibiotics, especially when they are not necessary.
The best example is the use of antibiotics in food animal production. Another large contributing factor causing antibiotic resistance is indiscriminate use of antibiotics. Antibiotics are made available through farm feed stores, pet shops, and the Internet. Non-prescription antibiotics are not produced at a concentration that will be effective. In addition, the most common administration route for these drugs is in the drinking water. This is not effective because the amount of medication that gets into the blood stream is too low to kill the bacteria.
It is imperative that antibiotics (and any other medications) never be administered without veterinary supervision. Before using antibiotics, your veterinarian must first determine why your bird is sick, then determine if and which antibiotics will be effective for treating the infection. Only a licensed veterinarian is legally able to diagnose and treat disease. If your bird is sick you should not administer over the counter (OTC). Treating with OTC antibiotics will mask your bird’s illness, leading you to believe your bird is well. Then when antibiotics are stopped, your bird will begin to show symptoms again, primarily because antibiotics may not be the treatment your bird needs. When a veterinarian sees your bird after OTC antibiotics have been administered, diagnostic testing will be affected by these drugs and make diagnosing your bird’s disease much more difficult.
*Do not treat disease and injuries at home. You should take advantage of the huge advancements in avian medicine and surgery to give your bird the very best chance at wellness and recovery. *
-By Dr. Gregory Burkett