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Prev Vet Med. 2012 Sep 1;106(1):53-62. doi: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2012.03.001. Epub 2012 Apr 9.

Prophylactic and metaphylactic antimicrobial use in Belgian fattening pig herds.

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Veterinary Epidemiology Unit, Department of Reproduction, Obstetrics and Herd Health, Ghent University, Belgium.


The monitoring of antimicrobial use is an essential step to control the selection and spread of antimicrobial resistance. Between January and October 2010 data on prophylactic and metaphylactic antimicrobial use were collected retrospectively on 50 closed or semi-closed pig herds. Ninety-three percent of the group treatments were prophylactic whereas only 7% were methaphylactic. The most frequently used antimicrobials orally applied at group level were colistin (30.7%), amoxicillin (30.0%), trimethoprim-sulfonamides (13.1%), doxycycline (9.9%) and tylosin (8.1%). The most frequently applied injectable antimicrobials were tulathromycin (45.0%), long acting ceftiofur (40.1%) and long acting amoxicillin (8.4%). The treatment incidences (TI) based on the used daily dose pig (UDD(pig) or the actually administered dose per day per kg pig of a drug) for all oral and injectable antimicrobial drugs was on average 200.7 per 1000 pigs at risk per day (min=0, max=699.0), while the TI based on the animal daily dose pig (ADD(pig) or the national defined average maintenance dose per day per kg pig of a drug used for its main indication) was slightly higher (average=235.8, min=0, max=1322.1). This indicates that in reality fewer pigs were treated with the same amount of antimicrobials than theoretically possible. Injectable products were generally overdosed (79.5%), whereas oral treatments were often underdosed (47.3%). In conclusion, this study shows that prophylactic group treatment was applied in 98% of the visited herds and often includes the use of critically important and broad-spectrum antimicrobials. In Belgium, the guidelines for prudent use of antimicrobials are not yet implemented.

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