tagged w/ Antibiotic Resistance
Antibiotic-resistant superbugs will push medical science back to the 19th century, with people dying of minor infections says Britain’s top health official.Antibiotic-resistant superbugs will push medical science back to the 19th century,... more
Chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies tells MPs issue should be added to national risk register of civil emergencies
By Ian Sample | Wednesday 23 January 2013 14.41 EST
Britain's most senior medical adviser has warned MPs that the rise in drug-resistant diseases could trigger a national emergency comparable to a catastrophic terrorist attack, pandemic flu or major coastal flooding.
Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer, said the threat from infections that are resistant to frontline antibiotics was so serious that the issue should be added to the government's national risk register of civil emergencies.
She described what she called an "apocalyptic scenario" where people going for simple operations in 20 years' time die of routine infections "because we have run out of antibiotics".
The register was established in 2008 to advise the public and businesses on national emergencies that Britain could face in the next five years. The highest priority risks on the latest register include a deadly flu outbreak, catastrophic terrorist attacks, and major flooding on the scale of 1953, the last occasion on which a national emergency was declared in the UK.
Speaking to MPs on the Commons science and technology committee, Davies said she would ask the Cabinet Office to add antibiotic resistance to the national risk register in the light of an annual report on infectious disease she will publish in March.
Davies declined to elaborate on the report, but said its publication would coincide with a government strategy to promote more responsible use of antibiotics among doctors and the clinical professions. "We need to get our act together in this country," she told the committee.
She told the Guardian: ""There are few public health issues of potentially greater importance for society than antibiotic resistance. It means we are at increasing risk of developing infections that cannot be treated – but resistance can be managed.
"That is why we will be publishing a new cross-government strategy and action plan to tackle this issue in early spring."
The issue of drug resistance is as old as antibiotics themselves, and arises when drugs knock out susceptible infections, leaving hardier, resilient strains behind. The survivors then multiply, and over time can become unstoppable with frontline medicines. Some of the best known are so-called hospital superbugs such as MRSA that are at the root of outbreaks among patients.
"In the past, most people haven't worried because we've always had new antibiotics to turn to," said Alan Johnson, consultant clinical scientist at the Health Protection Agency. "What has changed is that the development pipeline is running dry. We don't have new antibiotics that we can rely on in the immediate future or in the longer term."
Changes in modern medicine have exacerbated the problem by making patients more susceptible to infections. For example, cancer treatments weaken the immune system, and the use of catheters increases the chances of bugs entering the bloodstream.
"We are becoming increasingly reliant on antibiotics in a whole range of areas of medicine. If we don't have new antibiotics to deal with the problems of resistance we see, we are going to be in serious trouble," Johnson added.
The supply of new antibiotics has dried up for several reasons, but a major one is that drugs companies see greater profits in medicines that treat chronic conditions, such as heart disease, which patients must take for years or even decades. "There is a broken market model for making new antibiotics," Davies told the MPs.
Davies has met senior officials at the World Health Organisation and her counterparts in other countries to develop a strategy to tackle antibiotic resistance globally.
Drug resistance is emerging in diseases across the board. Davies said 80% of gonorrhea was now resistant to the frontline antibiotic tetracycline, and infections were rising in young and middle-aged people. Multi-drug resistant TB was also a major threat, she said.
Another worrying trend is the rise in infections that are resistant to powerful antibiotics called carbapenems, which doctors rely on to tackle the most serious infections. Resistant bugs carry a gene variant that allows them to destroy the drug. What concerns some scientists is that the gene variant can spread freely between different kinds of bacteria, said Johnson.
Bacteria resistant to carbapenems were first detected in the UK in 2003, when three cases were reported. The numbers remained low until 2007, but have since leapt to 333 in 2010, with 217 cases in the first six months of 2011, according to the latest figures from the HPA.Chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies tells MPs issue should be added to national... more
Horizontal gene transfer, or the process of swapping genetic material between neighboring “contemporary” bacteria, is another means by which resistance can be acquired. Many of the antibiotic resistance genes are carried on plasmids, transposons or integrons that can act as vectors that transfer these genes to other members of the same bacterial species, as well as to bacteria in another genus or species. Horizontal gene transfer may occur via three main mechanisms: transformation, transduction or conjugation.
More at link
So basically bacteria of totally different species can pass on their antibiotic resistant knowledge among each other. Thus when people say "oh giving antibiotics to cows can't affect us, they're a totally different species" Ding dong they're wrong.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12791177
Horizontal gene transfer, or the... more
Iran could strike U.S. bases if Israel attacks: Hezbollah
Antibiotic resistance seen growing in soil
Hunger Games: The price of feeding the worldIran could strike U.S. bases if Israel attacks: Hezbollah
Antibiotic resistance seen... 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
The arms race between humanity and disease-causing bacteria is drawing to a close—and the bacteria are winning. The latest evidence: gonorrhea is becoming resistant to all standard antibiotic treatment.
Gonorrhea is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the world—with about 600,000 cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year. A few years ago, investigators started seeing cases of infection that did not easily respond to treatment with a group of drugs called cephalosporins, which are currently the last line of defense against this particular infection. Now, the number of drug-resistant cases has grown so much in the U.S. and elsewhere that gonorrheal infection may soon become untreatable, according to doctors writing in the February 9 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
(more at link)The arms race between humanity and disease-causing bacteria is drawing to a... more
By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger
On Tuesday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled a draft budget resolution for 2012. Ryan’s program would privatize Medicare and gut Medicaid.
“Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, is waging radical class warfare and ideological privatization schemes and selling it as a debt reduction plan,” writes Karen Dolan in AlterNet. Indeed, Ryan’s plan is larded with tax cuts for wealthy citizens and profitable corporations, which according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), would actually increase the national debt over the next decade. The CBO projects that the debt would reach 70% of GDP by 2022 under Ryan’s plan compared to 67% under the status quo.
At TAPPED, Jamelle Bouie predicts that Ryan’s budget plan will become the de facto platform for the GOP in the 2012 elections. Presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty is already gushing about the plan. He notes the irony in Republicans seizing upon a plan to eliminate Medicare when they campaigned so hard to “protect” the program during the fight over the Affordable Care Act.
Attacking Medicare is politically risky. The conventional wisdom is the program is all but invulnerable because it is so popular with the general public, and especially with senior citizens–who reliably turn out to vote in large numbers.
Suzy Khimm of Mother Jones argues that, in order to win this political fight, the Democrats need to emphasize what they’re doing to grapple with the rising costs of Medicare–such as creating an independent board to regulate the reimbursement rates for all procedures covered under Medicare. Republicans have harshly criticized such a board as an example of health care rationing. Their proposed plan, however, would ration care far more severely, based on ability to pay. Ryan’s plan would give seniors a voucher to defray part of the cost of buying private health insurance. The voucher wouldn’t cover care equivalent to that which is offered under Medicare. So, under Ryan’s plan, care would be rationed based on each person’s ability to pay for extra coverage.
In a separate piece, Khimm notes that the GOP is taking a further political gamble by proposing massive cuts to Medicaid. She cites a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation which found that only 13% of respondents favored major cuts to Medicaid. Republicans may be betting that they can cut Medicaid because they associate it with health care for the very poor, a constituency with little political capital and low voter turnout. But while Medicaid does serve the poor, a large percentage of its budget covers nursing home care for middle class retirees and services for adults with major disabilities–care that their families would otherwise have to pay for.
How to save $15 billion in health care costs
New research suggests that the federal government could save $15 billion by reducing unnecessary emergency room visits through investment in community health centers, Dan Peterson of Change.org reports:
This week, new research, from the Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative, pinpoints just how much we stand to lose in health care efficiency savings if the funding is cut as proposed; $15 billion. Put another way, for every $1 invested in CHC expansion, there is a potential savings in health care costs of $11.50.
Peterson reports that money to expand the CHC program may be cut from the budget. The report explains that if the funding is lost, then CHCs will not be able to serve the 10-12 million additional patients who were supposed to get care through expanded CHCs under the Affordable Care Act. If Congress refuses to allot $1.3 billion for cost-effective primary care, $15 billion in projected savings will evaporate.
If Republicans are serious about balancing the budget, they should happily expand the Community Health Center network.
Danish Antibiotic Resistance Education
D.A.R.E. to keep pigs off drugs. The U.S. hog industry is heavily dependent on low-dose antibiotics to keep its swine infection-free. This practice comes at the cost of increased antibiotic resistance. Sixteen years ago, the government of Denmark, the world’s largest exporter of pork, took the bold step of asking its pork industry to reduce the amount of antibiotics given to pigs. Ralph Loglisci of Grist notes that the experiment has been a huge success: The industry has slashed antibiotic use by 37%, antibiotic resistance is down nationwide, and production has held steady or increased.
Twenty-nine-year-old Barie Shortell’s face was shattered in an apparent anti-gay attack in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in February. Joseph Huff-Hannon reports on AlterNet on an obstacle in Shortell’s already-long road to recovery:
After blacking out, and spending 10 hours in surgery and five days in the hospital, Shortell is now taking another whipping from one of the insidious antagonists of 21st-century American life—the private health-care system. Shortell, like many of his fellow American twentysomethings, is uninsured.
Up to 30% of people in their twenties are uninsured. The Affordable Care Act should reduce the number of uninsured twenty-somethings, but as Huff Hannon notes, the number of uninsured young adults is expected to continue to rise for some time. The ACA allows young people to stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26, but this reform is of little help to the millions of families who lost job-linked health coverage during the recession.
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse for a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger
On Tuesday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)... more