Our first newsletter in which David talks about Beta-Lactam antibiotics and Cephalosporins.

 September 2009 #1

Welcome!Hi, my name is David Wong and I would like to welcome you to my first newsletter on Antibiotics.   


The topics I’ll be sharing with you won’t be hard core technical mumble jumbo material you get from a PhD thesis, but a newsletter full of interesting facts and ideas. 

I’ll also be addressing some of the pressing issues facing the dairy industry but more importantly making you aware of the fundamentals of antibiotic testing and helping improve everyone’s awareness on a simple yet complex topic.  

You’ll learn how certain antibiotic concoctions can pass through a microbial inhibition test, why some cleaning agents can give you a false positive result, why high colostrum can also affect the readings and so much more. 

On the other side, you’ll also see how certain farmers are becoming more proactive in their approach to on-farm antibiotic testing.   

Just imagine finally having a newsletter written by someone from the dairy industry that knows the topic and in a simple, easy to read format. 

So here we go……  


Understanding Beta-Lactams and Cephalosporins 

Now a newsletter on antibiotics wouldn’t be informative if it didn’t include something about the different types of antibiotics available. But rather than give you a long list of every single antibiotics available, which will add to the confusion and complexity, I’ll start by introducing to you the common families of drugs.  

They include the Beta-Lactam, Cephalosporins (Beta-lactam), Tetracyclines, Macroglides, Sulfonamides, Aminoglycosides and others which I’ll elaborate on in the future. 

Beta-Lactam antibiotics 

But first, let’s talk about the Beta-lactam antibiotics. They are the most common family of antibiotics available for use around the world because of their low toxicity. Its chemical structure has a distinct ring called the “Beta-lactam ring” as shown by the square ring within each of the chemical structure shown in the picture below.  


Family tree for beta-lactam antibiotics



This ring and its derivatives are agents that are active against many micro-organisms, such as those causing mastitis. 

Cephalosporins (Beta-Lactam) 

Structurally, cephalosporins are part of the bata-lactam group as they have a beta-lactam ring (which they share with all penicillins) but what sets them slightly apart is the addition of a thiazolidine ring. 

Did you know that cephalosporins are often thought of as new and improved derivatives of the penicillins and was actually discovered as naturally occurring substances by the fungi (Cephalosporium acremonium)? Incidentally, this mould was first isolated from sewage! 

I hope that wasn’t too technical, but since beta-lactam and cephalosporins account for the majority of antibiotics used, I had to go a bit technical. Stay tuned for my next issue on the microbial inhibition test.    



Arrow Scientific Pty Ltd

Unit 1, 332 Burns Bay Road, Lane Cove NSW 2066Ph: 02 9427 7455  -  Fax: 02 9427 7456  




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