Submitted to: American Society of Animal Science
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: February 21, 2003
Publication Date: March 17, 2003
Citation: Elsasser, T.H. 2003. Alternative methods to control subclinical diseases [abstract]. 83rd Annual Meeting of the ASAS Midwest Section. p. 81. Technical Abstract: Subclinical infection and disease load presents a significant challenge to producers and veterinarians. Often overlooked or undiagnosed, the presence of the vectors that define the subclinical situation are a real concern due to the potential for disease transmission via several "shedding" routes as well as priming animals for more severe reaction to a secondary infection. Traditional uses of the lower levels of antibiotics for disease control purposes has come under tremendous scrutiny and criticism. Issues regarding the development and transmission of antibiotic resistance in microbes of food animals are at the forefront of risk assessment paradigms. In this regard, alternatives to antibiotic regimens can be developed, but more importantly they need to be used where available. Certain common sense approaches can be partnered to capitalize on these alternatives. At the heart of alternative approaches to disease management are the "3 needs": the alternative actually needs to be effective, it needs to readily implementable into an existing management program, and it needs to be economical. In this light therefore one should rethink what constitutes "disease", which is actually the biochemical manifestations of the host response to the presence of an immunological threat. An important consideration in the development of "alternatives" might be to focus on what can be done to stabilize host homeostatic mechanisms and allow the animal to utilize its own defenses to combat the vector. Approaches are being developed that range from nutrient alterations to genetic manipulation of endogenous antimicrobial peptides. Finally, where we can anticipate the timing of certain production stresses, including birth/parturition, weaning, transport, feeding changes, etc., we may be able to provide dietary supplements in the short term to limit stress-related free radical production and imbalances in the intracellular REDOX potential that set animals up for metabolic imbalances. When animals are less than stabile they are more susceptible to opportunistic infections.