"Cured my "fish" of its tooth, ear and foot infections - 4 Stars"
July 31, 2017 11:12 AM   Subscribe

A possible consequence of high health and prescription insurance copays and premiums: some Americans appear to be ordering antibiotics online intended for ornamental aquarium fish to treat human ailments. "Because of a legal loophole, fish antibiotics, which are formulated to dissolve in a tank, do not require a veterinarian's prescription, unlike similar medications for cats, dogs and other animals." But there are a lot of reasons why this is a bad idea.

Stockpiling fish antibiotics is suggested by many aurvivalist "prepper" websites, because it can be difficult to get a prescription to buy them in bulk. Most (but not all) of the survivalist sites note the dangers of both over-using antibiotics and consuming medication intended for non-humans. The "Survival Doctor" includes a page titled "Everything You’ve Wanted to Know About Fish Antibiotics for Humans"

Related, from Slate: "Can I Take My Dog's Pills? It's probably not the best idea."
posted by zarq (44 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
The link under "ordering" has a large number of reviews from people treating very common "fish" ailments like toothaches and ear infections. Like this one:
"My fish came down with a nasty case of bronchitis and sinusitis just before Christmas, but her health insurance doesn't kick in until the first of the year.

So she couldn't go to a fish doctor because she only makes minimum wage at the aquarium, and a trip to the fish emergency room would have put her in debt so far she wouldn't be able to get out.

So she tapped on the edge of her tank with her sick little fin and blew bubbles in morse code to ask me to order these for her.

They worked great! She is now bronchitis and sinusitis-free, and she only had to miss one day of work at the aquarium.

She thanked me in bubble morse code, and said she would use them only when absolutely necessary, in order to avoid creating superfishbugs."
They also appear to be giving the pills to their other, non-aquatic pets.
posted by zarq at 11:17 AM on July 31 [11 favorites]


That's one hell of a commentary on the U.S. healthcare system.

Actually it's one hell of a commentary on the U.S.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:18 AM on July 31 [67 favorites]


"My fish is hiking the AT and..."

Stop right there. Your what is what?

So I see these reviews and I have to ask: is no one reading them? Or is the system so biased to sales that obviously -- some joyfully even -- fictitious reviews go right on through without interrupting the flow of business?
posted by wenestvedt at 11:20 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


What if your fish lives near the Canadian border? Can US citizens just buy into Canadian health insurance for their fish and take their fish across the border when they don't feel well?
posted by pracowity at 11:23 AM on July 31 [6 favorites]


I ran across these recently when I was looking for actual fish medicine, and I was so surprised how many reviews some items had, until I actually looked at the reviews.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:36 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]


What if your fish lives near the Canadian border? Can US citizens just buy into Canadian health insurance for their fish and take their fish across the border when they don't feel well?

When I was in Vancouver with my minnow, she fell off some aquarium decorations and hurt her fin. We had to take her to the fish emergency room, and because she didn't have a Canadian Fishcare card it cost a thousand fish dollars just to be seen by a fish nurse.

Money aside, the experience was pleasant, effective, and, thankfully, ultimately unnecessary.
posted by gurple at 11:40 AM on July 31 [4 favorites]


What if your fish lives near the Canadian border? Can US citizens just buy into Canadian health insurance for their fish and take their fish across the border when they don't feel well?

You jest but the primary reason Ontario developed a photo ID Ontario Health Insurance Card was to prevent OHIP fraud by border crossing Americans who borrowed the old non-photo ID cards from friends. It is sort of amusing to think of Americans as 'bloody illegals' crossing the border to take advantage of a more advanced society.
posted by srboisvert at 11:41 AM on July 31 [49 favorites]


i think you meant a nurse shark
posted by poffin boffin at 11:41 AM on July 31 [42 favorites]


You know, you don't need a prescription to buy molecular biology grade antibiotics...
posted by maryr at 11:44 AM on July 31 [12 favorites]


She thanked me in bubble morse code, and said she would use them only when absolutely necessary, in order to avoid creating superfishbugs."

And there's one reason we'd hope for better medical advice for fish, since that's a total misunderstanding of one possible problem with antibiotics. Though it's hard to fault someone who has no reasonable access to health care for screwing that up.

In the pre-ACA bad old days, I used to ask my veterinarian friend for such things, not entirely jokingly and never successfully. Luckily, Planned Parenthood was there for me, even when the problems I presented with weren't in their usual wheelhouse.
posted by asperity at 11:48 AM on July 31 [5 favorites]


medicare

for

all
posted by indubitable at 11:57 AM on July 31 [20 favorites]


That's one hell of a commentary on the U.S. healthcare system.
Actually it's one hell of a commentary on the U.S.


All-American resourcefulness and can-do attitude?
posted by Thorzdad at 12:03 PM on July 31 [3 favorites]


Fish deserve single payer healthcare.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 12:03 PM on July 31 [13 favorites]


Back in 2005 or so one of my fish started developing some kind of hole in his head. I took it to the aquarium and the guy diagnosed it with Hole in Head Disease.

This being Mexico the fancy imported and individually packaged fish medicine cost about 15 times more than the human medicine, so I just went to the pharmacy, fish in hand, and paid the equivalent of $2.50 USD for a consultation with the on-site doctor. The doctor was amused, she also kept fish, and I walked out with a box of human Metronidazole for less that $5 USD.

Imagine my surprise the first time I needed antibiotics for a respiratory infection in the USA a few years later. I bought my Metronidazole from Ocean Aquarium in the Tenderloin.

(If you are into planted aquariums and breeding hard to breed aquatic animals, there is a friendly underground network of people that will help you obtain the chemicals you need in small quantities at a reasonable price. Between the fertilizers, antibiotics, hormones, growing media and micropropagation paraphernalia... you could have trained CSI in my apartment)
posted by Dr. Curare at 12:05 PM on July 31 [12 favorites]


All-American resourcefulness and can-do attitude?

It works for every possible interpretation of this phenomenon:

Prepping for the apocalypse

Don't have access to health care

Too lazy/cheap to get off my ass and see a doctor

Scheduling an appointment with a doctor is too much a pain in the ass and too expensive even with insurance.

My doctor told me I don't need antibiotics. Doctors! What do they know? I can google what I need just as easily.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 12:10 PM on July 31 [10 favorites]


When I was a lad, I had a grandfather who was a vet. Panalog veterinary ointment was our sovereign remedy for most everything external. Got a rash? Panalog! Cut? Panalog! Abrasion? and so on. It did work a treat, while looking disturbingly puslike. And being a veterinary preparation, that meant not dealing with anything like scents or anything like that.

So, yeah, I am guilty.

(Also, peppermint wheels were the tummy problem go to.)
posted by Samizdata at 12:23 PM on July 31 [2 favorites]


Man, I knew a grad student who had no health insurance and this was the route he took after 2 months of walking pneumonia. It was a desperate move but he could not get a job with reliable health insurance and he could not do a doctor for fear of adding to his debt. If you are wondering about the university med center, there was none. Welcome to reduced funding of schools at every level.

When one of my ultra conservative colleagues rants about medical care, I point out that no citizen of a good, if not great nation should walk in fear. Believe in American exceptionalism? That's great, I vibe you, but that exceptionalism requires citizens to be free of fear from medical catastrophe, failure of the law, breakdown of order, hunger and safety. I know, it smacks of FDR, but it also smacks of a lot of other patriots, too.

In any case, this situation is horrible. I am ambivalent about Petco shutting down the pipeline.
posted by jadepearl at 12:34 PM on July 31 [29 favorites]


you could have trained CSI in my apartment)
posted by Dr. Curare at 2:05 PM


Nervously watches thread to see if confession is forthcoming.
posted by srboisvert at 12:43 PM on July 31 [2 favorites]


This doesn't surprise me. Years ago I was looking up reviews on Amazon of some craft molding compounds and there were a few that had great reviews for an unexpected use...the customers were molding their own dental partials.
posted by Calzephyr at 1:02 PM on July 31 [7 favorites]


When I was a lad, I had a grandfather who was a vet. Panalog veterinary ointment was our sovereign remedy for most everything external. Got a rash? Panalog! Cut? Panalog! Abrasion? and so on. It did work a treat, while looking disturbingly puslike. And being a veterinary preparation, that meant not dealing with anything like scents or anything like that.

Vetericyn is my family's new Windex.
posted by maryr at 1:28 PM on July 31 [2 favorites]


Back in 2005 or so one of my fish started developing some kind of hole in his head. I took it to the aquarium and the guy diagnosed it with Hole in Head Disease.

Dr. Curare, I was so confused by your comment until I realized you were actually talking about a fish.
posted by bibliowench at 2:21 PM on July 31 [19 favorites]


You jest

Not really jesting. I was truly wondering whether Americans could somehow buy into the Canadian healthcare system (make monthly payments, etc.). Not take advantage of it.

Jesting would be wondering whether this whole fish scheme would scale.
posted by pracowity at 2:42 PM on July 31 [10 favorites]


Bonus? No more ick!
posted by BlueHorse at 2:43 PM on July 31 [4 favorites]


Another DIY idea from the internet that inspires in me the simultaneous reactions "that is terrible" and "I wonder if I should ..."
posted by Countess Elena at 2:51 PM on July 31 [8 favorites]


Yeah, when Chegwin the goldfish was sick, we started looking up treatments online, and that's when we discovered the secondary uses for fish antibiotics.

And then we thanked heaven we still had the NHS.
posted by Katemonkey at 2:55 PM on July 31 [4 favorites]


pracowity: "Can US citizens just buy into Canadian health insurance for their fish and take their fish across the border when they don't feel well?"

There are residency requirement in, I believe, every province.
posted by Mitheral at 3:15 PM on July 31 [2 favorites]


"Give it to me straight, Professor. Is it fin rot? It's fin rot, isn't it? Tell me it's not fin rot!"

Zoidberg: Why Must I Be a Crustacean in Love?
posted by RuvaBlue at 4:27 PM on July 31 [4 favorites]


There are residency requirement in, I believe, every province.

At the rate things are going, you may need a wall.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:44 PM on July 31 [2 favorites]


Not really jesting. I was truly wondering whether Americans could somehow buy into the Canadian healthcare system (make monthly payments, etc.). Not take advantage of it.

launch a military invasion of canada

plunder all their good healthcare
posted by indubitable at 5:03 PM on July 31


Related, from Slate: "Can I Take My Dog's Pills? It's probably not the best idea."

What if you're sick as a dog?
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:52 PM on July 31 [3 favorites]


I'm unemployed and one of my cats got giardia last week, and the vet gave him panacur. I was googling around and found it (much cheaper) online without a prescription. Since giardia can be passed to people, I thought about ordering some for me just in case. I guess that's a question for AskMe.
posted by AFABulous at 7:38 PM on July 31


Dip Flash: "you may need a wall."

We have winter.
posted by Mitheral at 7:57 PM on July 31 [2 favorites]


you could have trained CSI in my apartment)
posted by Dr. Curare at 2:05 PM

Nervously watches thread to see if confession is forthcoming.


No worries. They followed the AskMetafilter thread and went to the pig farm. All good.
posted by Samizdata at 8:09 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]


I use fish meds to tapeworm m dog because it costs $3 vs $80. How often does one need to tapeworm a dog? As often as they eat mice apparently. It's the exact same medicine you can buy over the counter overseas too.
posted by fshgrl at 11:31 PM on July 31


jadepearl: When one of my ultra conservative colleagues rants about medical care, I point out that no citizen of a good, if not great nation should walk in fear. Believe in American exceptionalism? That's great, I vibe you, but that exceptionalism requires citizens to be free of fear from medical catastrophe, failure of the law, breakdown of order, hunger and safety. I know, it smacks of FDR, but it also smacks of a lot of other patriots, too.

Q. F. T.

And mic drop.
posted by bryon at 12:58 AM on August 1


The notion that antibiotics are some kind of wonder-drug, to be taken for any random symptoms, strikes me as such a 1940s sci-fi idea. It's the kind of thing I just always assumed was a signifier for a less educated era. But I keep finding people stockpiling half a run of stale antibiotics. Hell, the pressure they put on GPs to just scrip out the stuff for any old thing makes my teeth grind!
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 6:11 AM on August 1 [5 favorites]


I think there's sort of a weird thing where people are becoming aware of the issue of antibiotic resistance but respond instinctively with the urge to... stock up on antibiotics, which of course doesn't exactly make sense.

(When I've known people to hold on to amoxicillin or whatever they do at least seem to be saving it for something that's a bacterial infection, though they are not always on top of the idea that not everything is of equal efficacy against anything.)
posted by atoxyl at 6:33 AM on August 1


rum-soaked space hobo I hate to bring this up, but this is kind of a less educated era.
posted by sneebler at 10:07 PM on August 1 [3 favorites]


Well look if anybody has a line on fish methylprednisolone, I know a fish with broad and deeply treatment-resistant gout and no other good options to retain, like, basic function in most of the joints on the right side of its body.
posted by penduluum at 10:30 AM on August 2


I had an older horse whose arthitis pain was greatly soothed by application of vet grade DMSO. For several years prior to having repair and a plate put in my poorly healed, completely shattered big toe, I used to occasionally head out to the horse shed while whinnying in pain. My horse told me that DMSO is highly effective for pain and stiffness, but it is hell on the liver if over used.
posted by BlueHorse at 10:57 AM on August 2


DMSO is good stuff. Just make sure the skin is clean and free of products. On your horse.

Well look if anybody has a line on fish methylprednisolone,

All the pet pharmacies sell this stuff for pennies a pill. Pet Meds, PetRX, Allvet etc. Seriously, I've bought it in vast quantities for a horse that got bit by a snake and it's maybe $0.20 for a 20mg pill. You need an RX at the US sites. Pretty sure we didn't in Mexico though.
posted by fshgrl at 11:15 PM on August 2


re DMSO: MSDS's do tend to make everything sound terrifying, but here's a line to look out for under Potential Health Effects
Chronic: Long-term skin application of 80-90% DMSO has produced CNS effects (such as fatigue, nausea, vomiting, sedation, dizziness and headache), and dermatitis (such as redness, dryness and scaling) in volunteers. A garlic-like breath odor has been noted.
posted by maryr at 8:08 AM on August 3


Since giardia can be passed to people, I thought about ordering some for me just in case.

AFABulous, CDC says you shouldn't worry about this. Also, IANAD, but taking an anti-helmintic without consulting a doctor does not sound like a great plan. At the very least, it could contribute to increased resistance in the natural population. At worst, I don't really love how none of the (Google hit) sites I'm finding contain any information about its effects in humans.
posted by maryr at 8:15 AM on August 3


maryr, your link to the SigmaAldrich catalog was already visited for me, because I ordered some Kan for cloning a few weeks ago and happened to see the Tetracycline, too. That 25g powder for $50 would give you fifty 500 mg doses. Amoxicillin will run you $200 for the same amount, but that's a good old fashioned easy to tolerate antibiotic.

Of course, you could also culture some penicillium and extract you some antibacterials. You'll have to go to the SigmaAldrich catalog for some of the other culture media and extraction reagents, but hey, you could do it.

Silver, also, has some real antibiotic properties, which leads some to the consumption of colloidal silver, which doesn't have antibiotic properties and can of course cause Argyria, which is really not as cool as it sounds (though it does make you look like some kind of immortal elf.)

I think that this, and fish antibiotics, and other prepper-like methods, are part of the New American Folk Medicine. They're remedies that are risky, sometimes a bit expensive, or require a lot of time and energy, or require a lot of specialized technical know-how. But they just might work. And if you don't have other good options... I think we're often quick to castigate people for engaging in internet quack medicine, rather than going to a doctor, and it's important to realize that most people most of the time are doing the thing that is most possible for them.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 7:21 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


« Older Buried Adult   |   A Farewell to Screen Savers Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments