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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Animal & Veterinary

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FDA Veterinarian Newsletter September/October 2001 Volume XVI, No V

Dear Dr. Sundlof:

The American Association of Avian Pathologists (AAAP) is the professional organization of those veterinarians and scientists with an interest in diseases of avian species. As such, our membership includes the vast majority of those veterinarians responsible for the health management and antibiotic treatment of U.S. poultry, as well as those with academic interests in avian diseases. We are acutely interested in the responsible use of antimicrobials in poultry, as evidenced by our representative's participation in the Steering Committee on Antibiotic Resistance. This participation resulted in the rapid development and dissemination of the "Guidelines for Judicious Therapeutic Use of Antimicrobials in Poultry," which basically articulated the current standard of practice in the poultry industry.

Consequently, we are distressed to note that page 2 of (the January-February 2001 FDA Veterinarian) contains the article "Antibiotic Resistance from Down on the Farm" ...which contains the statement, "But the size of flocks precludes testing and treating individual chickens—so when a veterinarian diagnoses an infected bird, the farmers treat the whole flock by adding the drug to its drinking water." In practice, poultry veterinarians assemble information on a representative sampling of the house or flock, and then determine an economically viable course of action. The requirement for an economically viable course of action precludes use of antibiotics based on pathology in a single bird. In other words, flocks of birds are treated only when a significant number of birds are either clinically affected or are showing early signs of disease (i.e., ruffled feathers, nasal/ocular discharge, etc.), thus preventing the rapid spread of the disease from one individual to the next until the entire flock becomes infected....


Dear Dr. Hofacre:

Thank you for sharing your comments about the article "Antibiotic Resistance from Down on the Farm" that was included in the January/February 2001 FDA Veterinarian. As you point out, the article does not accurately portray the proper approach veterinarians use under the Judicious Use Principles to diagnose poultry flocks before treatment with an antimicrobial.

We at FDA/CVM support the work of veterinarians to reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance from food of animal origin. Just like the members of AAAP, we in FDA/CVM support the American Veterinary Medical Association's development of the Judicious Use Principles. In fact, CVM has sponsored the development and distribution of educational material concerning the Judicious Use Principles. We want to continue our partnership with your organization, with others representing veterinarians, and with all of our stakeholders so that we can jointly develop the best approach to the issue of antimicrobial resistance, an approach that helps us to ensure food safety and that helps you have the best products possible to properly treat the animals in your care.

Sincerely yours,
Stephen F. Sundlof, D.V.M., Ph.D.
Director, Center for Veterinary Medicine