tagged w/ Antibiotics
Leah Zerbe at Rodale reports on the dangerous side effects of doctors over prescribing antibiotics and their use in factory farming:
The World Health Organization recently said resistance to antibiotics might be the end of modern medicine; people could die after routine operations or when a simple scrape on the knee becomes infected.
In fact, we're already seeing all sorts of antibiotic-resistant infections claim lives and strain the healthcare system. The most common, MRSA, alone kills about 18,000 people a year in the United States—that's more than AIDS. Gonorrhea is also on the verge of being untreatable, and many common antibiotics no longer cure urinary tract infections.
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) has reintroduced to Congress the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act, which aims to reduce the use of human antibiotics in animals. It is estimated that 80% of the antibiotics used in the US go to animal agriculture.
Basically, factory farms are unsanitary, so the animals may get sick unless they are pumped full of antibiotics. This legislation would not only help keep antibiotics working better for humans, but would also encourage factory farmers to create more sanitary conditions for the animals.Leah Zerbe at Rodale reports on the dangerous side effects of doctors over prescribing... more
"Since foreign fish farms are not held to US regulatory standards, those antibiotics might include those that US fish farmers aren't allowed to use, like nitrofuranzone, enroflaxin, and chloramphenicol. The findings are a little worrying, as 90% of the shrimp Americans eat comes from such operations, and only 2% of imported shrimp is inspected by the FDA.""Since foreign fish farms are not held to US regulatory standards, those... more
12 months ago
Cameras rolled one day last fall as Ty E. Lawrence led journalists into a room-sized meat locker on the campus of West Texas A&M University, where bloody sides of beef, still covered with a slick layer of ivory-colored fat, hung from steel hooks. Dressed in a white lab coat, a hard hat on his head, Lawrence pointed to the carcass of a Holstein that had been fed a new drug called Zilmax. He noted its larger size compared with the nearby body of a steer never given the drug.
"This is thicker, and it's plumper," said Lawrence, an associate professor of animal science, pointing at the beast's rib-eye. "This animal right here," he said, waving his hand at the pharmaceutically enhanced meat, "doesn't look like a Holstein anymore."
Convincing ranchers that Zilmax will transform their cattle into bovine Schwarzeneggers has been part of Lawrence's work ever since the drug was introduced by Intervet, a subsidiary of Merck, the global pharmaceutical company. The tour he led of the carcasses in his lab was just one of many events where he has helped Intervet sell Zilmax. He's given speeches to ranchers and written an article for a beef-industry magazine to promote the drug. He's repeatedly let Intervet include his comments in news releases, including one in which he said the drug could "revolutionize the beef production system."
Lawrence is hardly alone. Scores of animal scientists employed by public universities have helped pharmaceutical companies persuade farmers and ranchers to use antibiotics, hormones, and drugs like Zilmax to make their cattle grow bigger ever faster. With the use of these products, the average weight of a fattened steer sold to a packing plant is now roughly 1,300 pounds—up from 1,000 pounds in 1975.
It's been a profitable venture for the drug companies, as well as for the professors and their universities. Agriculture schools increasingly depend on the industry for research grants, a sizable portion of which cover overhead and administrative costs. And many professors now add to their personal bank accounts by working for the companies as consultants and speakers. More than two-thirds of animal scientists reported in a 2005 survey that they had received money from industry in the previous five years.
Yet unlike a growing number of medical schools around the country, where administrators have recently tightened rules to better police their faculty's ties to pharmaceutical companies, the schools of agriculture have largely rejected critics' concerns about industry cash. Administrators have set few limits on how much corporate money agricultural professors can accept. Faculty work with industry is governed by confidentiality rules that veil it from public view.
In certain ways, the close relationship between animal scientists and pharmaceutical companies has never served the public well. Few animal scientists have been interested in looking at what harm the livestock drugs may be causing to the cattle, the environment, or the people eating the meat. They've left most of that work to scientists outside of agriculture, consumer groups, and others who take interest.
But with the introduction of Zilmax, the situation may have reached a tipping point. Critics say some academic animal scientists have become so closely tied to the drug companies that they may be working more in the companies' interests than in those of farmers and ranchers—the very groups that land-grant universities were created to serve.
More at the linkCameras rolled one day last fall as Ty E. Lawrence led journalists into a room-sized... more
Farmers and ranchers will for the first time need a prescription from a veterinarian before using antibiotics in farm animals, in hopes that more judicious use of the drugs will reduce the tens of thousands of human deaths that result each year from the drugs’ overuse.
The Food and Drug Administration announced the new rule Wednesday after trying for more than 35 years to stop farmers and ranchers from feeding antibiotics to cattle, pigs, chickens and other animals simply to help the animals grow larger. Using small amounts of antibiotics over long periods of time leads to the growth of bacteria that are resistant to the drugs’ effects, endangering humans who become infected but cannot be treated with routine antibiotic therapy.
At least two million people are sickened and an estimated 99,000 die every year from hospital-acquired infections, the majority of which result from such resistant strains. It is unknown how many of these illnesses and deaths result from agricultural uses of antibiotics, but about 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the United States are used in animals.
Michael Taylor, the F.D.A.’s deputy commissioner for food, predicted that the new restrictions would save lives because farmers would have to convince a veterinarian that their animals were either sick or at risk of getting a specific illness. Just using the drugs for growth will be disallowed and, it is hoped, this will cut their use sharply. The new requirements will also make obtaining antibiotics more cumbersome and expensive.
“We’re confident that it will result in significant reductions in agricultural antibiotic use,” Mr. Taylor said. “That’s why we’re doing this.”
Just how broadly farmers use antibiotics simply to promote animal growth is unknown. About 80 percent of antibiotics used on farms are given through feed, and an additional 17 percent are given in water. Just 3 percent are given by injection.
More at the linkFarmers and ranchers will for the first time need a prescription from a veterinarian... more
The Season of El Toro
Judge: FDA must act to cut antibiotics from animal feed
‘Hell no, we won’t glow’: Dozens of anti-nuclear activists arrested at Vermont Yankee protestThe Season of El Toro
Judge: FDA must act to cut antibiotics from animal feed... more
Lets get geeked out on some science. New research suggests that methycillin resistant Staphyloccus aureus - better known as the highly antibiotic resistant superbug MERSA - the flesh-eating bacteria that has killed so many people - may have evolved its defenses to antibiotics on a factory farm. A paper published by the American Society for Microbiology lays out how a human strain of MERSA was originally drug-defeatable - but then transferred into a pig population where it developed its resistance to antibiotics - and bounced back into the human population. Like most forms of livestock - pigs are often fed antibiotics to help them grow faster and prevent the infections that come with the crowding and horrible conditions in factory farms. As a result - any infection they may have - like MERSA - becomes immune to the high levels of antibiotics in their systems. The fact that pigs have played a role in creating a human superbug shouldn't come as any surprise considering pigs and humans are biologically quite similar. Until a human insulin drug was made in 1978 - Pig insulin was routinely used to treat diabetes in humans.Lets get geeked out on some science. New research suggests that methycillin resistant... more
Here is a document the USDA doesn't want you to see. It's what the agency calls a "technical review"—nothing more than a USDA-contracted researcher's simple, blunt summary of recent academic findings on the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant infections and their link with factory animal farms. The topic is a serious one. A single antibiotic-resistant pathogen, MRSA—just one of many now circulating among Americans—now claims more lives each year than AIDS.
Back in June, the USDA put the review up on its National Agricultural Library website. Soon after, a Dow Jones story quoted a USDA official who declared it to be based on "reputed, scientific, peer-reviewed, and scholarly journals." She added that the report should not be seen as a "representation of the official position of USDA." That's fair enough—the review was designed to sum up the state of science on antibiotic resistance and factory farms, not the USDA's position on the matter.
But around the same time, the agency added an odd disclaimer to the top of the document: "This review has not been peer reviewed. The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Department of Agriculture." And last Friday, the document (original link) vanished without comment from the agency's website. The only way to see the document now is through the above-linked cached version supplied to me by the Union of Concerned Scientists.
What gives? Why is the USDA suppressing a review that assembles research from "reputed, scientific, peer-reviewed, and scholarly journals"?
To understand the USDA's quashing of a report it had earlier commissioned, published, and praised, you first have to understand a key aspect of industrial-scale meat production. You see, keeping animals alive and growing fast under cramped, unsanitary conditions is tricky business. One of the industry's tried-and-true tactics is low-level, daily doses of antibiotics. The practice helps keep infections down, at least in the short term, and, for reasons no one really understands, it pushes animals to fatten to slaughter weight faster.
Altogether, the US meat industry uses 29 million pounds of antibiotics every year. To put that number in perspective, consider that we humans in the United States—in all of our prescription fill-ups and hospital stays combined—use just over 7 million pounds per year. Thus the vast bulk of antibiotics consumed in this country, some 80 percent, goes to factory animal farms.
For years, scientists have worried that the industry's reliance on antibiotics was contributing to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. The European Union took action to curtail routine antibiotic use on farms in 2006 (taking Sweden's lead, which had banned the practice 20 years before).
But here in the United States, the regulatory approach has been completely laissez-faire—and the meat industry would like to keep it that way. The industry claims that even though antibiotic-resistant bacteria have been found both in confined animals and supermarket meat, there's simply no evidence that livestock strains are jumping to the human population.
Here is where we get back to that now-you-see-it, now-you-don't USDA research summary, which reads like a heavily footnoted rebuttal to the industry line. Assembled by Vaishali Dharmarha, a research assistant at the University of Maryland, the report summarizes research from 63 academic papers and government studies. Here are few of her findings:
• "Use and misuse of antimicrobial drugs in food animal production and human medicine is the main factor accelerating antimicrobial resistance."
• "[F]ood animals, when exposed to antimicrobial agents, may serve as a significant reservoir of resistant bacteria that can transmit to humans through the food supply."
• "Several studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on antimicrobial-resistant Salmonella showed that [antibiotic resistance] in Salmonella strains was most likely due to the antimicrobial use in food animals, and that most infections caused by resistant strains are acquired from the consumption of contaminated food."
• "Farmers and farm workers may get exposed to resistant bacteria by handling animals, feed, and manure. These exposures are of significant concern to public health, as they can transfer the resistant bacteria to family and community members, particularly through person-to-person contacts."
• "Resistant bacteria can also spread from intensive food animal production area to outside boundaries through contact between food animals and animals in the external environment. Insects, flies, houseflies, rodents, and wild birds play an important role in this mode of transmission. They are particularly attracted to animal wastes and feed sources from where they carry the resistant bacteria to several locations outside the animal production facility."
Naturally, such assertions didn't please the meat industry—and the fact that they were backed up by dozens of peer-reviewed science papers no doubt only sharpened the sting.
More at the link.Here is a document the USDA doesn't want you to see. It's what the agency... more
Most of us have had a doctor prescribe an antibiotic for a stubborn bacterial infection, or for a cut that gets infected. However, prescribing an antibiotic to fight cancer? In fact, anti-cancer antibiotics have been used since the 1950s to successfully treat several forms of cancer, but often the side effects limit the duration they can be given to a patient.
One particularly promising anti-cancer antibiotic is geldanamycin and a modified form of this drug known as 17AAG. Despite its proven ability to selectively kill many different forms of cancer in laboratory studies, the use of these drugs is limited due to side effects, mainly liver failure, in patients.
Newly published results from Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) researchers show how the anti-cancer antibiotic geldanamycin and its derivative 17AAG work in more detail and have uncovered a possible explanation for side effects observed in clinical trials of the drug.
"The article provides novel and significant information about the clinical potential of these compounds in cancer therapy," said Yale School of Medicine Professor and Chair of Pharmacology Joseph Schlessinger, Ph.D.
http://aurmoth.blogspot.com/2011/06/cancer-antibiotics-geldanamycin-and.htmlMost of us have had a doctor prescribe an antibiotic for a stubborn bacterial... more
Gram-negative bacterial strains with NDM-1 (New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase-1) gene, also called the superbug, have now been detected in drinking water and seepage water samples collected from several sites in New Delhi. Seepage samples were collected from water pools found in streets or rivulets.
The findings have been published online today (April 7) in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.
The NDM-1 gene enables Gram-negative bacterial strains to become resistant to carbapenem, a powerful antibiotic. Bacteria that carry the antibiotic resistant gene were found in two drinking-water samples and 51 seepage water samples.
The two drinking-water samples were collected from west of the Yamuna River in the district of Ramesh Nagar and from south of the Red Fort, respectively. The seepage samples that tested positive for the NDM-1 gene were collected close to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Gol Market and other sites.
No panic situation
Since none of the tap water samples had stable plasmids, “the situation has not yet [become] utterly miserable,” writes Mohd Shahid in an accompanying Comment piece in the journal. Dr. Shahid is from the Department of Medical Microbiology, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College and Hospital, Aligarh Muslim University, U.P.
In all, the researchers had collected 50 drinking-water samples (public tap water samples) and 171 seepage samples from sites within a 12 km radius of central New Delhi.
70 sewage effluent samples from Cardiff Wastewater Treatment Works were also collected as control samples.
“Some samples contained multiple NDM-1 positive species,” the authors write. “20 NDM-1 positive strains were present in the samples, including E. coli and K. pneumonia [that causes pneumonia], ...and pathogenic species Shigella boydii and V. cholera [that cause dysentery and cholera, respectively].”
NDM-1 was in the news in August last year when the same journal reported that 37 U.K. patients who had undergone elective and cosmetic surgeries in India and two neighbouring countries (Pakistan and Bangladesh) were harbouring the drug-resistant bacterial strains.
Human gut bacteria
But the latest finding clearly indicates that the drug-resistant bacterial strain carrying NDM-1 gene is no longer a hospital-born infection, but is found in the environment.
The authors of the study have found that NDM-1 gene has also spread to families of bacteria that populate the human gut and cause urinary tract infection, diahorrea, to name a few. It has also spread to pathogenic bacteria species that cause cholera and dysentery.
It is indeed really possible for the NDM-1 gene that confers antibiotic resistance to move from one species to another.
The easy spread is made possible as the NDM-1 gene is carried in the plasmids of the Gram-negative bacteria. And the plasmids can move from one bacterium to another of its kind, and even to different bacterial species.
cont.Gram-negative bacterial strains with NDM-1 (New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase-1) gene,... more
A new pattern of antibiotic resistance that is spreading around the globe may soon leave us defenseless against a frighteningly wide range of dangerous bacterial infections.
:http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-enemy-withinA new pattern of antibiotic resistance that is spreading around the globe may soon... more
2 years ago
Recently Complete News Updates Today The latest is Sexy Forever by Suzanne Somers. I do not want to state my age, but I do recall the thigh master. As one of America’s most informed and passionate health care advocates, Suzanne Somers has a history of sharing her secrets to keeping the weight off and looking beautiful.Recently Complete News Updates Today The latest is Sexy Forever by Suzanne Somers. I... more
2 years ago
In the final episode of this 3 part video series on how to optimize antibiotic use and how to minimize the emergence of drug resistant pathogens, Dr. Linda Tollefson, Assistant Commissioner for Science at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, goes in depth on the use of antimicrobial drugs in agriculture, their efficacy, and adverse human health consequences. Dr. Stuart Levy, professor of Molecular Biology and Microbiology at Tufts University School of Medicine, discusses policy, regulatory and funding issues around antibiotic resistance. Both Dr. Tollefson and Dr. Levy take a handful of questions from the audience.
(The series, "Antibiotics: Is a Strong Offense the Best Defense?" was filmed on September 18, 2008 at the Koshland Science Museum in Washington, D.C., for some reason this was never uploaded to Current.tv when Part 1 and Part 2 were. I just wanted to make the series complete.)In the final episode of this 3 part video series on how to optimize antibiotic use and... more
Bacteria communicate with chemical languages that allow them to synchronize their behavior and thereby act as multi-cellular organisms. This process, called quorum sensing, enables bacteria to do things they can’t do as a single cell, like successfully infect and cause disease in humans.
Bonnie Bassler, Ph.D., the Squibb Professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton University and President-elect for the American Society for Microbiology, has been researching strategies that can interfere with quorum sensing and will hopefully yield novel antibiotics to prevent disease.
In this episode of MicrobeWorld Video we present the full presentation Dr. Bassler gave at the Marian Koshland Science Museum in Washington, D.C. on June 18, 2009. Not only does Dr. Bassler explain the mechanisms of bacterial communication, but she also puts forth her theories on how we can disrupt this communication for human benefit.Bacteria communicate with chemical languages that allow them to synchronize their... more
The overuse of antibiotics can lead to drug-resistant superbugs, so it’s cause for concern to the folks at Johns Hopkins’ Center for a Livable Future that the vast majority of bug-killing drugs aren’t even consumed by sick humans.The overuse of antibiotics can lead to drug-resistant superbugs, so it’s cause... more
In 1998 and 1999, former Health Canada scientist, Dr Shiv Chopra, along with two co-workers, Drs. Margaret Haydon and Gerard Lambert, testified to the Canadian Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture and Forestry that they were pressured by senior supervisors to approve drugs of questionable safety, including the genetically engineered cattle drug, Bovine Growth Hormone (rBST) – then produced by Monsanto and Eli Lilly.
In return for their whistleblowing, the scientists were fired from their government positions.
Since then, Chopra has been an outspoken critic of corporate agriculture and its pocket regulators. In this interview by natural health advocate Dr Joseph Mercola, Chopra discusses the five toxic elements of the food supply that should be banned immediately. GM foods are one of them. Chopra also talks inspiringly and from practical experience about how ordinary people can reclaim the food production system from the control of the corporations.
The Toxic Five: Why Are They Still in Our Food?
A Special Interview with Dr. Shiv Chopra
By Dr. Mercola
DC: Dr. Shiv Chopra
DM: Dr. Joseph Mercola, DO
Video of interview plus transcript at:
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/08/14/chopra-interview-july-2010.aspxIn 1998 and 1999, former Health Canada scientist, Dr Shiv Chopra, along with two... more
ST. MARC, Haiti, Oct. 22, 2010
Haiti: Suspected Cholera Outbreak Kills 135
Aid Groups Rush in Supplies as Deadliest Outbreak Since Earthquake Hits Refugees; 1,000 Said to be Infected
Photo: A sick child in central Haiti hooked up to an IV waiting for treatment, Oct. 21, 2010. (Operation Blessing International)
Victims await treatment at a medical facility in St. Marc, northern Haiti, amid an epidemic that has claimed at least 135 lives over the last few days, Oct. 21, 2010. (Getty Images)
(CBS/AP) At least 135 people have died in a suspected cholera outbreak, and aid groups are rushing in medicine and other supplies Friday to combat Haiti's deadliest health problem since its devastating earthquake.
The outbreak in the rural Artibonite region, which hosts thousands of quake refugees, appeared to confirm relief groups' fears about sanitation for homeless survivors living in tarp cities and other squalid settlements.
"We have been afraid of this since the earthquake," said Robin Mahfood, president of Food for the Poor, which was preparing to fly in donations of antibiotics, dehydration salts and other supplies.
Many of the sick have converged on St. Nicholas hospital in the seaside city of St. Marc, where hundreds of dehydrated patients lay on blankets in a parking lot with IVs in their arms as they waited for treatment.
Catherine Huck, deputy country director for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said the Caribbean nation's health ministry had recorded 135 deaths and more than 1,000 infected people.
"What we know is that people have diarrhea, and they are vomiting, and (they) can go quickly if they are not seen in time," Huck said. She said doctors were still awaiting lab results to pinpoint the disease.
David Darg, international disaster relief director for Operation Blessing International told CBS News on Thursday it was the worst outbreak of disease he had seen since the earthquake, and many lying outside of the hospital were children.
The president of the Haitian Medical Association, Claude Surena, said the cause appeared to be cholera, but added that had not been confirmed by the government.
"The concern is that it could go from one place to another place, and it could affect more people or move from one region to another one," he said.
Cholera is a waterborne bacterial infection spread through contaminated water. It causes severe diarrhea and vomiting that can lead to dehydration and death within hours. Treatment involves administering a salt and sugar-based rehydration serum.
No cholera outbreaks had been reported in Haiti for decades before the earthquake, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Haitian officials, including President Rene Preval, have been pointing to the lack of severe disease outbreaks as a hard-to-see success of the quake response.
With more than a million people left homeless by the disaster, however, experts have warned that disease could strike in the makeshift camps with nowhere to put human waste and limited access to clean water.
At the hospital, some patients including 70-year-old Belismene Jean Baptiste said they got sick after drinking water from a public canal.
"I ran to the bathroom four times last night vomiting," Jean Baptiste said.
The sick come from across the Artibonite Valley, a starkly desolate region of rice fields and deforested mountains. The area did not experience significant damage in the Jan. 12 quake but has absorbed thousands of refugees from the devastated capital 45 miles south of St. Marc.
Trucks loaded with medical supplies including rehydration salts were to be sent from Port-au-Prince to the hospital, said Jessica DuPlessis, an OCHA spokeswoman. Doctors at the hospital said they also needed more personnel to handle the flood of patients.
Elyneth Tranckil was among dozens of relatives standing outside the hospital gate as new patients arrived near death.
"Police have blocked the entry to the hospital, so I can't get in to see my wife," Tranckil said.
The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince issued an advisory urging people to drink only bottled or boiled water and eat only food that has been thoroughly cooked.ST. MARC, Haiti, Oct. 22, 2010
Haiti: Suspected Cholera Outbreak Kills 135
2 years ago
U.S. Meat Farmers Brace for Limits on Antibiotics
Photo: At Elite Pork, a large pork farm in Ralson, Iowa, pigs are fed antibiotics for weeks after weaning to ward off possible illness.
By ERIK ECKHOLM
Published: September 14, 2010
RALSTON, Iowa — Piglets hop, scurry and squeal their way to the far corner of the pen, eyeing an approaching human. “It shows that they’re healthy animals,” Craig Rowles, the owner of a large pork farm here, said with pride.
The questions over antibiotics come at a time when animal confinement methods and other aspects of so-called factory farming are also under attack.
Mr. Rowles says he keeps his pigs fit by feeding them antibiotics for weeks after weaning, to ward off possible illness in that vulnerable period. And for months after that, he administers an antibiotic that promotes faster growth with less feed.
Dispensing antibiotics to healthy animals is routine on the large, concentrated farms that now dominate American agriculture. But the practice is increasingly condemned by medical experts who say it contributes to a growing scourge of modern medicine: the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including dangerous E. coli strains that account for millions of bladder infections each year, as well as resistant types of salmonella and other microbes.
Now, after decades of debate, the Food and Drug Administration appears poised to issue its strongest guidelines on animal antibiotics yet, intended to reduce what it calls a clear risk to human health. They would end farm uses of the drugs simply to promote faster animal growth and call for tighter oversight by veterinarians.
The agency’s final version is expected within months, and comes at a time when animal confinement methods, safety monitoring and other aspects of so-called factory farming are also under sharp attack. The federal proposal has struck a nerve among major livestock producers, who argue that a direct link between farms and human illness has not been proved. The producers are vigorously opposing it even as many medical and health experts call it too timid.
Scores of scientific groups, including the American Medical Association and the Infectious Diseases Society of America, are calling for even stronger action that would bar most uses of key antibiotics in healthy animals, including use for disease prevention, as with Mr. Rowles’s piglets. Such a bill is gaining traction in Congress.
“Is producing the cheapest food in the world our only goal?” asked Dr. Gail R. Hansen, a veterinarian and senior officer of the Pew Charitable Trusts, which has campaigned for new limits on farm antibiotics. “Those who say there is no evidence of risk are discounting 40 years of science. To wait until there’s nothing we can do about it doesn’t seem like the wisest course.”
With the backing of some leading veterinary scientists, farmers assert that the risks are remote and are outweighed by improved animal health and lower food costs. “There is no conclusive scientific evidence that antibiotics used in food animals have a significant impact on the effectiveness of antibiotics in people,” the National Pork Producers Council said.
But leading medical experts say the threat is real and growing. Proponents of strong controls note that the European Union barred most nontreatment uses of antibiotics in 2006 and that farmers there have adapted without major costs. Following a similar path in the United States, they argue, would have barely perceptible effects on consumer prices.
Resistance can evolve whenever drugs are used against bacteria or other microbes because substrains that are less susceptible to the treatment will survive and multiply.
Drug use in humans, including overuse and misapplication, clearly accounts for a large share of the surge in antibiotic resistant infections, a huge problem in hospitals in particular. Yet biologists and infectious disease specialists say there is also enormous circumstantial and genetic evidence that antibiotics in farming are adding to the threat.
Livestock and poultry have been identified as the most likely sources of drug-resistant strains of microbes like salmonella and campylobacter that have caused outbreaks of severe intestinal illness in people and of E. coli strains that cause serious bladder, blood and other infections. (Resistant strains have not been implicated in the recent outbreak of salmonella contamination in eggs.)
In a letter to Congress in July, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cited “compelling evidence” of a “clear link between antibiotic use in animals and antibiotic resistance in humans.”
As drug-resistant strains of microbes evolve on the farms, they are passed along in meat sold in grocery stores. They can infect people as they handle the uncooked product or when eating, if cooking is not thorough. The dangerous strains can also enter the environment via manure or the clothes of farm workers.
Genetic studies of drug-resistant E. coli strains found on poultry and beef in grocery stores and strains in sick patients have found them to be virtually identical, and further evidence also indicated that the resistant microbes evolved on farms and were transferred to consumers, said Dr. James R. Johnson, an infectious-disease expert at the University of Minnesota. Hospitals now find that up to 30 percent of urinary infections do not respond to the front-line treatments, ciprofloxacin and the drug known as Bactrim or Septra, and that resistance to key newer antibiotics is also emerging. E. coli is also implicated in serious blood, brain and other infections.
“For those of us in the public health community, the evidence is unambiguously clear,” Dr. Johnson said. “Most of the E. coli resistance in humans can be traced to food-animal sources.”
The proposed Food and Drug Administration guidelines focus on the use of antibiotics to speed growth. Just how antibiotics have this effect, which has been known for decades, is unclear, but scientists suspect that the drugs improve the absorption of nutrients as they prevent low-grade disease.
Mr. Rowles, the proprietor of Elite Pork and a trained veterinarian himself, estimates that by feeding his pigs an antibiotic in their final months he is saving $1 to $3 per animal in feed costs. For the consumer, this is negligible, but from his perspective it looms larger because, he said, in good years his net profit is only $7 to $10 per animal.
More contentious is the routine use of antibiotics to prevent disease, as Mr. Rowles and other pork producers do with newly weaned pigs.
Dr. James McKean, an extension veterinarian at Iowa State University, said experience in Denmark, Europe’s leading pork producer, showed that ending the practice would result in more illness, suffering and death among pigs, and cause a jump in antibiotic treatments of actual disease. Dr. McKean estimated that a ban on most nontreatment uses of antibiotics would raise the cost of pork by 5 cents a pound.
Others counter that farmers in Denmark have learned to hold down illness in young pigs by extending the weaning period, altering feeds and providing more space and veterinary scrutiny of the animals. Some of the drugs used in prevention by farmers like Mr. Rowles would also be permitted under the measure before Congress because they are not used in human medicine.
“In the end, the producers will do what is right,” Mr. Rowles said. “We will make sure we deliver a product that meets the needs of consumers.”
“My only concern is that we make decisions in a scientific fashion, not a political fashion,” he said.
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2010/09/15/us/15farm-span/15farm-span-articleLarge-v2.jpgU.S. Meat Farmers Brace for Limits on Antibiotics
Photo: At Elite Pork, a large... more
Cockroaches, far from being a health hazard, could be a rich source of antibiotics.
A study of locust and cockroach brains has found a number of chemicals which can kill bugs like MRSA.
Scientists hope these could become a powerful new weapon to boost the dwindling arsenal of antibiotics used to treat severe bacterial infections.
The research was announced at a meeting of the Society for General Microbiology.
The researchers discovered nine different chemicals in the brains of locusts and cockroaches, which all had anti microbrial properties strong enough to kill 90% of MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) while not harming human cells.
(more at link)Cockroaches, far from being a health hazard, could be a rich source of antibiotics.... more