Humans are ingesting fish antibiotics to treat their own illnesses

Posted at 8:09 AM, Aug 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-28 08:09:57-04
There's something "fishy" about the way fish antibiotics are being used. People are taking the antibiotics for their own illnesses and doctors said it could be very dangerous.
"It was kind of disturbing really," said Steve Zarzeczny. He owns RMS Aquaculture in Middleburgh Heights. Over the years he's seen customers stock up on fish medicine.
"So, people came in and were buying antibiotics and things and I'm sure not all for fish."
5 On Your Side Investigators found reviews online where people basically admitted to just taking the medicine designed for fish.
"My fish had a nasty cough. They are all better now," wrote one customer. “It worked great for the bladder infection that my fish had," reads another.  "Works perfectly, is the exact same as any 'fish' doctor would prescribe," wrote a user.
They are common antibiotics. You might recognize Penicillin, Amoxicillin, Tetracycline, and more.
"I believe my wife has strep throat,” said one man as his wife coughed in the background of a video posted on YouTube. The woman said she was feeling better on day-two of taking the pills. "I can actually breathe through my sinuses."
We found bottles from $20-$40 each. People have said that's cheaper than a trip to the doctor but unless you are a fish, doctors emphasize don't take fish antibiotics.
"It's such a colossally bad idea," said Dr. Christine Alexander is from MetroHealth in Cleveland. "We've been doing a lot of work in this area to try and cut back how many antibiotics we prescribe and to be sure when we give an antibiotic, it's the most specific to what the patient has," she explained.
Dr. Alexander said the base antibiotic might be the same as human doses, but other things inside the fish pills, flakes or liquids that help fish absorb the medicine could be dangerous for humans. Plus, there are other issues to keep in mind.
"You might be on a medication that's going to have a bad outcome because it's interacting with the antibiotic that you picked," said Dr. Alexander.
Fish experts like Zarzeczny agree. "It's always best to stick to a doctor's advice,” he told News 5.
Dr. Alexander also said there are real concerns about "superbugs", bacteria that have a resistance to antibiotics.
The more we use antibiotics, the bacteria are smart enough to change and then be stronger than the medicine.