9 August 2002

Antibiotics no better for digital dermatitis

TREATING cattle for digital dermatitis with antibiotic footbaths is no more effective than treating them with a non-antibiotic solution, according to new research.

A trial at the former ADAS Bridgets Research Centre by Richard Laven found there was little variation in lesion size and colour between four different footbath solutions. Cattle in the trial were treated with either erythromycin, formalin, copper sulphate or peracetic acid, and lesion scores, based on lesion size and colour, were allocated at day zero, day four, day seven and day 21 of the trial. Treatment costs were similar, although antibiotics were used for two consecutive days and others for seven days.

"These results are encouraging, when you consider that the antibiotic treatment erythromycin is not licensed for foot-bathing and is, therefore, subject to a milk withdrawal period of seven days, unlike non-antibiotic products," says Dr Laven.

Peracetic acid was the least successful of the treatments, however, all treatments showed similar patterns, with a large drop in lesion scores at four and seven days, followed by a smaller drop to 21 days, he adds. &#42

reports Dr Laven. &#42

"Costs for the treatments were similar as the antibiotic treatment was only used on two consecutive days, whereas the non-antibiotic treatments were used for seven consecutive days."