Long-Acting Antibiotics in Zoo Animals: What Do We Know?
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2012

Jessica M. Gull1, Dr med vet; Cedric R. Müntener2, Dr med vet; Jean-Michel Hatt1, Prof Dr med vet, MSc, DACZM, ECZM (Avian)

1Clinic for Zoo Animals, Exotic Pets and Wildlife, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland; 2Institute of Veterinary Pharmacology, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland


Zoo veterinarians deal with animal species wherein each single treatment event may imply logistic challenges and health hazards for the animals (e.g., remote injection, immobilization). Long-acting antibiotics meet the need of providing antibiotic cover in species that are difficult to medicate on a regular basis. For domestic animals, new long-acting antibiotics were developed recently, but the question is what can be used in zoological and wildlife medicine?

With cefovecin, the very long half-life in dogs and cats allows a dosing interval of 14 days.14,15 However, species differences in pharmacokinetics are highly relevant and likely preclude the use of this antimicrobial agent in non-evaluated species.17 For cattle, pigs, and horses, a sustained release ceftiofur suspension (ceftiofur crystalline free acid, [CCFA]) was developed. Pharmacokinetic studies are underway for other species. In reptiles, other cephalosporins allow a long dosing interval (e.g., ceftazidime).13 Tulathromycin is a long-acting macrolid antibiotic used in domestic animals with the potential of evaluation for zoo animals. Long-acting tetracyclines, and doxycyline formulations have been utilized in practice for a longer time. Other modes of administration may be employed so that antibiotics are administered at a less frequent interval (e.g., ballistic implants, impregnated beads).

In Table 1, we compile a list of long-acting antibiotics that may be useful for the zoo veterinarian. Examples of pharmacokinetic data of several long-acting antibiotics are included, as well as, examples wherein long-activity is not achieved.

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Literature Cited

1.  Adkesson, M. J., E. Fernandez-Varon, S. K. Cox, and T. Martín-Jiménez. 2011. Pharmacokinetics of a long- acting ceftiofur formulation (ceftiofur crystalline free acid) in the ball python (Python regius). J. Zoo Wildlife Med. 42:444–450.

2.  Bakker, J., L. R. Thuesen, G. Braskamp, M. T. Skaanild, B. Ouwerling, J. Langermans, and M. Bertelsen. 2011. Single subcutaneous dosing of cefovecin in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta): a pharmacokinetic study. J. Vet. Pharmacol. Therap. 34:464–468.

3.  Benchaoui, H. A., M. Nowakowski, J. Sherington, T. G. Rowan, and S. J. Sunderland. 2004. Pharmacokinetics and lung tissue concentrations of tulathromycin in swine. J. Vet. Pharmacol. Therap. 27:203–210.

4.  Bertelsen, M. F., L. R. Thuesen, J. Bakker, C. Hebel, C. Grondahl, L. Brimer, and M. T. Skaanild. 2010. Limitations and usages of cefovecin in zoological practice. Proc. Int. Conf. Dis. Zoo and Wild Animals, Madrid, Spain. 140–141.

5.  Dechant, J. E., J. D. Rowe, B. A. Byrne, S. E. Wetzlich, H. T. Kieu, and L. A. Tell. 2012. Pharmacokinetics of ceftiofur crystalline free acid after single and multiple subcutaneous administrations in healthy alpacas (Vicugna pacos). J. Vet. Pharmacol. Therap.

6.  Doré, E., J. A. Angelos, J. D. Rowe, J. L. Carlson, S. E. Wetzlich, H. T. Kieu, and L. A. Tell. 2010. Pharmacokinetics of ceftiofur crystalline free acid after single subcutaneous administration in lactating and nonlactating domestic goats (Capra aegagrus hircus). J. Vet. Pharmacol. Therap. 34:25–30.

7.  Harms, C.A., M. G. Papich, M. A. Stamper, P. M. Ross, M. X. Rodriguez, and A. A. Hohn. 2004. Pharmacokinetics of oxytetracycline in loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) after single intravenous and intramuscular injections. J. Zoo Wildlife Med. 35:477–488.

8.  Helmick, K. E., M. G. Papich, K. A. Vliet, R. A. Bennett, and E. R. Jacobson. 2004. Pharmacokinetic disposition of a long-acting oxytetracycline formulation after single-dose intravenous and intramuscular administrations in the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis). J. Zoo Wildlife Med.  35:341–346.

9.  Hope, K. L., L. A. Tell, B. A. Byrne, S. Murray, S. E. Wetzlich, L. H. Ware, B. A. Warren Lynch, L. R. Padilla, and N. Boedeker. 2012. Pharmacokinetics of a single intramuscular injection of ceftiofur crystalline-free acid in American black ducks (Anas rubripes). Am. J. Vet. Res. 73:620–627.

10.  Horwitz, E., L. Kagan, N. Avni-Magen, D. Daryi, I. Gati, A. Hoffman, M. Friedman, and E. Lavy. 2010. A novel subcutanous controlled-release amoxicillin degradable implant for extended-interval administration in veterinary medicine. J. Vet. Pharmacol. Therap. 34:494–498.

11.  McLelland, D. J., I. K. Barker, G. Crawshaw, L. A. Hinds, L. Spilsbury, and R. Johnson. Single-dose pharmacokinetics of oxytetracycline and penicillin G in tammar wallabies (Macropus eugenii). 34:160–167.

12.  Papp, R., A. Popovic, N. Kelly, and R. Tschirret-Guth. 2010. Pharmacokinetics of cefovecin in squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus), rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta), and cynomolgus macaques (Macaca fascicularis). J. Am. Assoc. Lab. Anim. 49:805–808.

13.  Stamper, M. A., M. G. Papich, G. A. Lewbart, S. B. May, D. D. Plummer, and M. K. Stoskopf. 1999. Pharmacokinetics of ceftazidime in loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) after single intravenous and intramuscular injections. J. Zoo Wildlife Med. 30:32–35.

14.  Stegemann, M. R., J. Sherington, and S. Blanchflower. 2006. Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of cefovecin in dogs. J. Vet. Pharmacol. Therap. 29:501–511.

15.  Stegemann, M. R., J. Sherington, N. Coati, S. A. Brown, and S. Blanchflower. 2006. Pharmacokinetics of cefovecin in cats. J. Vet. Pharmacol. Therap. 29:513–524.

16.  Thuesen, L. R., M. F. Bertelsen, L. Brimer, and M. T. Skaanild. 2009. Selected pharmacokinetic parameters for Cefovecin in hens and green iguanas. J. Vet. Pharmacol. Therap. 32:613–617.

17.  Wernick, M. B., and C. R. Müntener. 2010. Cefovecin: a new long-acting cephalosporin. J. Exot. Pet Med. 19:317–322.

18.  Wojick, K. B., J. N. Langan, M. J. Adkesson, S. K. Cox, and K. C. Gamble. 2011. Pharmacokinetics of long- acting ceftiofur crystalline-free acid in helmeted guineafowl (Numida meleagris) after a single intramuscular injection. Am. J. Vet. Res. 72:1514–1518.

19.  Young, G., G. W. Smith, T. L. Leavens, S. E. Wetzlich, R. E. Baynes, S. E. Mason, J. E. Riviere, and L. A. Tell. 2011. Pharmacokinetics of tulathromycin following subcutaneous administration in meat goats. Res. Vet. Sci. 90:477–479.


Speaker Information
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Jessica M. Gull, Dr med vet
Clinic for Zoo Animals
Exotic Pets and Wildlife
University of Zurich
Zurich, Switzerland

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