March 15, 2006


 Aquatic antimicrobial use guidelines released

Posted March 1, 2006

A reference and educational resource guide for veterinarians administering antimicrobials to food fish and other aquatic animals recently became available. The release of the new guide, Judicious Use of Antimicrobials for Aquatic Veterinarians, was showcased at an AVMA booth during the Aquaculture America meeting in Las Vegas in February.

The AVMA Aquatic Veterinary Medicine Committee and the Aquaculture Working Group of the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine developed the guide.

The guide was prepared to help veterinarians treating aquatic animals, primarily for food production, with their efforts to use antimicrobials judiciously. The goal was to maintain the effectiveness of the drugs in the treatment and prevention of bacterial diseases in aquatic animals, while minimizing the development of antimicrobial resistance in human and animal pathogens.

"The publication of this document is timely, considering the fact that the newest antimicrobial approved for use in aquaculture is available only to veterinarians as a (veterinary feed directive) drug," said Dr. Stephen F. Sundlof, director of the FDA-CVM. "This reference will be a substantial resource to aquatic veterinarians."

In October 2005, the FDA approved florfenicol (Aquaflor) for enteric septicemia in catfish as a veterinary feed directive drug, resulting in an increase in therapeutic options for aquatic veterinarians. Florfenicol is the first drug designated under the Minor Use and Minor Species Animal Health Act, which the AVMA supports, and the first antimicrobial approved for finfish by the FDA in more than 20 years.

In 1998, the AVMA started a profession-wide initiative, including companion and food animal practitioner groups, to develop and implement judicious use principles for the therapeutic use of antimicrobials by veterinarians. The Executive Board approved a general set of judicious use principles in November 1998, which were updated and reapproved in 2004.

The guide for aquatic veterinarians uses the general AVMA judicious therapeutic use principles, with specific examples relating to aquatic animals.

For a copy of the guide, contact the AVMA at (800) 248-2862, Ext. 6670.