Submitted to: Apidologie
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 15, 2001
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Foulbrood is a devastating bacterial disease of honey bee larvae. There is currently only one labeled antibiotic for its control in the U. S., but resistance to this antibiotic is becoming widespread. We used a laboratory assay to screen 27 antibiotics against foulbrood disease in a laboratory assay. Five of these were active at concentrations low enough to be effective in the field, and were equally active against resistant and susceptible foulbrood bacteria. This information is of high interest to the U. S. beekeeping industry. Customers and stakeholders at a National Program workshop on bees and pollinators in 1999 identified selection of alternative antibiotics as a high priority item.
Since resistance of the causative organism of American foulbrood disease to oxytetracycline (OTC) is becoming widespread in the United States, we began a search for effective alternative antibiotics. We investigated 27 antibiotics, primarily ones already registered with the U. S. Food and Drug Administration for agricultural uses. Bacterial resistance to OTC also conferred resistance to other tetracyclines, although the level of resistance varied. The most active antibiotics screened that are currently used in agriculture were erythromycin, lincomycin, monensin, and tylosin. Rifampicin was by far the most active antibiotic tested, but since it is used against tuberculosis, and is not used in agriculture, it may be difficult to register this material for agricultural use.