Resistance to medication, a growing problem

A while ago, a pigeon fancier paid me a visit for a routine check-up. The pigeons had received a cure of 8 days with ronidazole 10% (high doses). Upon examination, it appeared that the pigeons were truly full of trichomoniase!

Resistance to ronidazole has been known for a while already but I get the impression that there is an increase, particularly when I am confronted which such cases!
However, it does not necessarily mean that the product is no longer working. In many cases, the medicine is still fully effective but we have to consider the fact that very resistant strains are developing. Although Professor Ducatelle claims that resistance to all nitro-imidazoles (such as ronidazole) has a common nature because they all work in the same way, practice has showed that resistance can be by-passed by varying medication. Cocktails however are altogether wrong! They are effective in the short term but the resistance problem will eventually increase.

This can be noticed in other medication such as tetracyclines. These antibiotics appear to be less and less effective. Due to the regular administration of cocktails of antibiotics for a short period of time, more and more bacteria are developing a resistance mechanism. Pigeons receive this medication too frequently and too briefly. As a result, resistant bacteria are picked out and the best and most resistant ones survive and proliferate which is pretty obvious since all the non-resistant bacteria were killed! Giving the pigeons a cocktail is of course an easy solution to a pigeon fancier because he is (apparently) protecting his birds from diseases such as upper airways and eye disorders.
It would, however, be much more efficient and very rewarding in the long term to look for the type of bacteria responsible for the disease, the kind of inflammation and whether there is a real problem! Targeted diagnostic research would be able to prevent lots of problems. If necessary, the pigeons can be treated with the right medication and for a long enough period of time. The result of such a procedure is a faster, more effective and more permanent solution. Furthermore, the pigeons will receive less medication and they will be healthier. There is less chance of resistance in the long run.

The best racing results are acquired by healthy pigeons with a good resistance that have received as little medication as possible. The most ideal combination is a good resistance (more about that next time) and very little medication. That is why it is extremely important to give the pigeons the right medication immediately and in a proper way. Administering medication at random will pay at first but there are consequences to be faced afterwards: pigeons with a low resistance that are continuously ill and that cannot perform without a cocktail, if they succeed in performing at all...

Fortunately, there do exist some bacteria, such as the cause of paratyphus, that develop very little resistance although there are many courses of treatment. Other bacteria such as E. Coli however, become resistant due to these treatments. In the future, it will become more and more difficult to treat adeno-coli effectively because of the comprehensive antibiotic treatments for paratyphus.

It is important that pigeons develop sufficient resistance. In combination with an effective correction during the racing season, this will result in super healthy pigeons. I’ll write about that in a next article.