I first learned about fish antibiotics in 2012 when I struggled with a tooth abscess while on vacation in the middle of nowhere. I was totally unprepared for a bacterial infection and going forward, was determined to stockpile antibiotics for emergency purposes down the road.
As a layman and not a healthcare professional, this was not casual research. I went to many sources, looked at bottles, and asked a lot of questions. I came away confident that lacking proper medical facilities, the judicious use of fish and veterinary antibiotics would be safe in a SHTF situation. And the best part about it? Fish antibiotics are readily available online at reasonable prices without a prescription. They are even available at Wal-Mart.
It was an epiphany.
But as I said, I am not a health care professional and am hesitant to offer even a modicum of advice on this subject. On the other hand, contributing author Dr. Joe Alton is a medical doctor and is well versed in survival medicine. In another exclusive article for Backdoor Survival, he is here today to share his knowledge of fish antibiotics and why peppers should include them as part of their long-term survival plan.
Why Store “Fish” Antibiotics?
By Joe Alton, MD
Years ago, I wrote the first article by a physician on the utility of certain antibiotics used in the aquarium and bird hobbies. Since then, fish antibiotics have become a part of many medical kits for those concerned about long-term survival. Indeed, a cottage industry has arisen to provide these products.
In my, perhaps, unique position as a doctor and a fish/bird keeper (everything from raising tilapia in ponds, breeding show bettas, and T.D. Bird, our 30 year old African Grey parrot), I’ve had the opportunity to treat both humans and animals that have bacterial infections.
When a human patient had a bacterial infection that required antibiotics, I might give them, say, amoxicillin. When a fish developed fin rot, I might use a product called Fish-Mox. For many years, I never gave it another thought.
Over time, however, I began to realize that there were avoidable deaths in long-term survival. With a large number of people performing activities they were unaccustomed to, such as chopping wood, injuries would occur. Some of these would get infected and could enter the bloodstream, a condition called septicemia, leading to life-threatening consequences. Having antibiotics in the survival medic’s kit could save lives otherwise lost.
This was illustrated in the 2010 History Channel offering “After Armageddon”. In the program, the Johnson family has survived a pandemic and was “bugging out”. They eventually joined a community of survivors. The father injures himself doing activities of daily survival, and incurs a cut that becomes infected. The community has run out of antibiotics and he, a paramedic himself, slowly dies as a result of the spreading infection. See it here (go to 1 hour 21 minutes to see the tragic outcome):
Here is a direct link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtP80Z08lfg
But how to get a reasonable supply of antibiotics? A sympathetic doctor may give you a prescription for 20 pills, but that would run out very quickly in a survival setting. You’d need to stockpile enough for long-term survival settings.
So I took a second look at some of my fish antibiotics. I examined a product called Fish Mox Forte. This fish medication contained only one ingredient: Amoxicillin 500mg. Nothing there that made your scales shinier or your fins longer.
Investigating further, I found that Fish Mox is produced in two dosages: 250mg and 500mg, the same dosages used in humans. Why would a guppy need the same amount of antibiotic as an adult human (no instructions for fish bowls compared to 200 gallon aquariums)?
I decided to compare samples of human Amoxicillin 500mg produced by Dava Pharmaceuticals and Fish Mox Forte (the 500mg version). The human version was a red and pink capsule with the numbers and letters WC 731 on it; Fish Mox Forte was a red and pink capsule with the numbers and letters WC 731 on it. In other words: Identical.
Why would companies use the same appearance and identification numbers if they are producing a different, lower grade product for veterinary use? First, it’s likely illegal to do so; second, It’s simple enough to just use a different colored capsule.
I found a number of fish and bird antibiotics that met my criteria, purchasable in quantity and without a prescription. They:
- Had only 1 ingredient, the antibiotic itself
- Were only produced in human dosages
- Were identical in appearance to antibiotics produced by at least one human pharmaceutical company.
It was clear to me (and verified by readers who worked in the pharmacy and veterinary industries over the years) that they are the exact same products, taken from the same batches produced for humans.
This wasn’t true of all veterinary products. Some had additional ingredients that gave benefits to specific animals, others were in larger dosages that are not advisable in humans (for example, equine meds).
So let’s go back to the important question: Are the fish and bird antibiotics I write about useful additions to your survival medical storage? Some deaths may be unavoidable in a situation without rule of law, but does it make any sense not to have medicines that could possibly prevent an unnecessary death?
Of course, you’ll need to study antibiotics in detail to be effective as the medic for a survival group. Antibiotics are not something to use injudiciously; veterinary antibiotics are no different. Indeed, the overuse of antibiotics is the cause for the epidemic of antibiotic resistance we see today. 80% of these meds are used in livestock, mostly to speed growth rather than to treat disease. The CDC is starting to control the use of antibiotics, but are starting with livestock like cows, pigs, and chickens.
If you can obtain antibiotics in quantity now, you should consider it for use in survival settings. Having said this, don’t use them when doctors exist to prescribe standard medications for bacterial disease. You’ll need to be able to recognize bacterial infections (antibiotics don’t kill viruses) to use them effectively. This isn’t always easy. Learn what infections look like and get needed supplies; you just might save the life of a loved one in times of trouble.
To find out much more about infectious disease and antibiotic use in survival settings, check out our 700 page Third Edition of The Survival Medicine Handbook, and look for more of our articles in the future at backdoorsurvival.com.
The Final Word
I don’t believe in popping antibiotics every time I get a sniffle. And, for that matter, antibiotics do nothing at all to fight virus infections. On the other hand, being prepared for a bacterial infection is just one more step toward surviving a major disruptive event were there is a likelihood of injury or disease.
And as far as the common cold? I put my trust in essential oils and especially the DIY Cold and Flu Bomb!
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!