In light of recent events with the increasingly turbulent world politics, more and more people are concerned about a large-scale catastrophe or cataclysmic natural disaster. Should such an event occur, it’s essential to be prepared and suitably equipped for all eventualities to be able to provide for our families and their health. Most pain medications, basic first aid and general self-care supplies can be purchased over the counter from drug stores. Stockpiling food, water, and household supplies is relatively easy, however procuring prescription medications including antibiotics is not such a cut-and-dried situation.
Antibiotic compounds treat specific bacterial infections regardless of the species infected, i.e. be it human, canine, bovine or otherwise. The reason doctors and veterinarians use different antibiotics in different species are because some of these medications cause adverse side effects or even toxicity in some species due to interference with various organs as well as the bacteria causing the primary illness. Equally, some antibiotics work well in a range of species though the dose may be different; one such example is doxycycline.
Throughout the developing world, human patients are often treated with veterinary medications for a variety of reasons including expense and availability of human pharmaceuticals. It is illegal practice for anyone, veterinarian or otherwise to dispense any animal medication for human consumption. One of the primary reasons for this law is the potential for abuse of pain medications and anesthetics, particularly narcotics is simply too great to permit such practice. People actually using veterinary medications however, is not uncommon, particularly among those who work with animals. Many companion animal medications are generic equivalents of human drugs; however, your veterinarian is not legally permitted to dispense these for your consumption, not even for an emergency situation. Another reason for these regulations is manufacturing hygiene. The United States Food and Drug Administration doesn’t require the same stringent guidelines regarding production hygiene for livestock antibiotics or feed additive medications as for human medicines. Impurities that could pose a health concern for humans but not for their intended animal consumers may be present in these compounds.
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How To Use Veterinary Drugs
#1. Research is essential if you are considering sourcing an emergency supply of antibiotics, which is why are reading this article. You want to ensure you and your family’s safety and make informed decisions about healthcare in a post-apocalyptic scenario.
#2. You should ensure that the active ingredient is the actual antibiotic despite the brand name.
#3. Dosage is another important consideration, you should compile a dosage chart for the medications you have stocked, not just antibiotics but also any other prescription medications and keep this with the medication for easy access in an emergency situation. Pay close attention to the concentration of active ingredient and look for a product with minimal fillers.
#4. Be cautious when sourcing medication, for example, the quality of products sold by some internet pharmacy companies may be sub-par or even counterfeit. Look for the USP Verified Pharmaceutical Ingredient Marks on medications. These are special coding used to identify medication, e.g. USP Pharmaceutical Grade Tetracycline on a tablet means that the concentration of the active antibiotic (tetracycline) is verified by the FDA.
#5. Self-medication with prescription antibiotics without any physician’s input in our current civilization is ill-advised as you increase the risk of selecting for multidrug-resistant strains of bacteria. You should follow your doctor’s directions for taking medications, to minimize the development of resistance in bacteria thus reducing the efficacy of our medications in the event of a disaster. The information in this article should only be used in the event of a crisis when prescriptions are not available.
Classes of Antibiotics
Another concern about self-medication is the diagnosis and subsequent treatment. You may not have the correct diagnosis; thus, you may not select the correct antibiotic or dosage. Using the incorrect medication or dose could put yours or another person’s health or life at risk.
There are a number of penicillin variants including amoxicillin, methicillin and flucloxacillin; also, combinations such as amoxicillin/clavulanate and ampicillin/sulbactam are also available. Penicillin was introduced in the 1940s and is used to treat a wide range of common ear/nose/throat, skin and respiratory infections including strep throat, Salmonella infections and pneumonia. Some people are deathly allergic to penicillin based antibiotics and can have anaphylactic reactions so use with caution.
Do not use these antibiotics as a first choice for any infection! Use with caution in children!
Ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, moxifloxacin and ofloxacin are some of the antibiotics in this class and are used to treat urinary tract infections, pneumonia and gonorrhea. A number of these drugs have been withdrawn from the market due to toxicities and microbial resistance is on the increase. Side effects are uncommon but can be severe including seizures, weakness, nausea and tendon damage even with short term use.
Do not use these antibiotics as a first choice for any infection!
There are five generations of this class of antibiotic available, earlier generations have good action against streptococcal and staphylococcal infections while the newest generation treats multidrug resistant bacteria including pseudomonal infections. Adverse responses include allergic reactions, gastrointestinal upset including nausea and diarrhea. These antibiotics can be used to treat gonorrhea, severe skin or middle ear infections and genito-urinary tract infections.
These antibiotics are good alternatives for people allergic to penicillins and cephalosporins.
Antibiotics in this class include azithromycin, clarithromycin, erythromycin and spiramycin. These are useful to treat respiratory infections such as whooping cough, Lyme disease, mouth infections and syphilis. Side effects include gastrointestinal upsets, liver problems and sight problems.
This group includes amikacin, gentamicin, neomycin and streptomycin. These antibiotics are useful in treating infections caused by Escherichia coli, Klebsiella and Pseudomonas aeruginosa and tularemia. These antibiotics are effective to treat severe bone and soft tissue infections. These are not effective when taken by mouth, but injectable and topical forms of these drugs are useful, including treating gonorrhea and tuberculosis. Side effects including hearing and kidney damage.
Possibly the best known member of this class is silver sulfadiazine which is topically used for burns and skin irritations. Others members include trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole and sulfadimethoxine and are used to treat urinary tract and eye infections. Side effects include kidney problems, nausea and sunlight sensitivity, symptoms of allergies to these include skin rashes.
Some helpful links are listed below:
The American Academy of Family Physicians‘ website is a good resource for educating yourself on health matters including quality cost-effective health care. This website includes information on interactions between medications, side effects and appropriate dosing.
You can also access a clinical guide with information about commonly available antibiotics and dosing information for both adults and children.
The best advice I can give you for preparing for a SHTF situation is to be scrupulous with your research and selecting your sources for antibiotics. Choose only reputable or peer reviewed sources for your information and be careful when selecting veterinary medications for your cupboard and always keep medications well away from children. Regularly check your medication inventory and if anything is past its expiration date discard in a safe manner and replace with a new version.
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