Sulbactam-ampicillin is a combination of sulbactam, a beta-lactamase inhibitor, and ampicillin, a broad spectrum beta-lactam antibiotic. The efficacy of sulbactam-ampicillin was evaluated in the treatment of calf respiratory disease associated with ampicillin-sensitive and ampicillin-resistant strains of Pasteurella haemolytica and Pasteurella multocida. Treatment with sulbactam-ampicillin was compared with treatment with ampicillin alone in 123 Friesian calves, between three and five weeks old, exhibiting clinical signs of respiratory disease. Seven of the 59 calves treated with ampicillin died whereas only one death occurred in the 64 calves treated with sulbactam-ampicillin. In the calves which survived, treatment with sulbactam-ampicillin resulted in a significantly better clinical response, as measured by the reduction in severity of clinical signs. The results of bacteriological examinations indicated that there was a marked increase in the proportion of ampicillin-resistant isolates of P haemolytica subsequent to treatment with ampicillin, whereas the proportion of ampicillin-resistant isolates of P. haemolytica recovered from calves treated with sulbactam-ampicillin had declined. The superior efficacy of sulbactam-ampicillin observed in this study is explained by the inhibitory effect of sulbactam on beta-lactamases produced by resistant bacteria, thus rendering them susceptible to the ampicillin.
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