Friday, May 6, 2011

The Good Bugs

Last month I attended a seminar put on by the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine. The subject was Contemporary Drug Therapies in Veterinary Medicine. I found the discussion of Probiotics to be particularly interesting.

A probiotic is a live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host. (World Health Organization) That last bit of conferring a health benefit is the subject of much research. What we know so far is that Probiotics can enhance digestion and synthesis of B vitamins, help to maintain a healthy mucosal lining of the GI tract and support the immune system. There are important differences in the normal bacteria flora of humans and other animals.  Research is looking into which microorganism works in various species.  Products that are commercially available are not regulated by the FDA so viability and proper identification of microbial strains cannot be guaranteed.  It is therefore important to use products that have studies and data to back them up.  Here is the current list of veterinary products that fulfill this requirement:
·         Fortiflora (Purina)
o   Enterococcus faecium SF48
·         Proviable (Nutrimax)
o   Bifidobacterium longum
o   Lactoabicillus spp.
o   Streptococcus salivorus
o   Enterococcus faecium
·         ProStora (Iams)
o   Bifidobacterium animalis AHC7
In addition ConsumerLab is an independent laboratory that test probiotic supplements (human and veterinary) for accuracy of label claims of viability of organisms in products. As part of ConsumerLab’s Voluntary Certification Program, Proviable was evaluated and found to contain the advertised number of probiotic organism and to be free of microbial contamination.

More clinical studies are necessary but potential use of probiotics in Veterinary Medicine includes:
·         Chronic Kidney Disease
·         Inflammatory Bowel Disease
·         Acute Diarrhea caused by viral or bacterial infection
·         Antibiotic associated diarrhea – prevention and treatment
·         Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth

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