Wednesday, February 22, 2012

More Evidence that Antibiotics in Animals Cause Superbacteria

The proof that the antibiotics administered to our healthy for-food cattle, chickens and pigs are causing major health implications is becoming increasingly damning, as evidenced from a report released yesterday. Yet, at what point will our elected politicians and appointed government officials disconnect themselves from the moneyed interests of Big Food and consider the greater good?

While we are holding our breath, we should do our best to avoid meat, dairy and eggs that come from animals administered antibiotics, since over 70 percent of the antibiotics used in the United States are given to healthy livestock. It is widely accepted that this overuse—to help the animals grow bigger faster—has helped foster the growth of superbacteria resistant to the antibiotics that have served us so well for decades.

If the latest example—the development of a strain of antibiotic-resistant MRSA—doesn't raise some eyebrows, maybe we can get a super PAC to take up the cause. Anyone have $5 million to spare? Seriously, I'll let an article in today's Food Safety News explain further, since it perfectly sums up where we stand:

"A study published today in MiBio lends further weight to the growing theory that using animal antibiotics in livestock contributes to drug resistance among human bacteria.

"Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is a strain of Staph that's resistant to methicillin - the drug most commonly used to treat Staph infections.

"Using a detailed DNA mapping technique, researchers at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Arizona were able to trace one of these superbugs - MRSA CC398 - to its origins, discovering that the human strain of this bacteria developed its drug resistance in animals rather than in people.

"Often referred to as 'pig-MRSA' or 'livestock-associated MRSA,' the strain is known to affect humans who have been exposed to live animals, such as farmers or veterinarians. But this study found that CC398 was originally a human bacteria, susceptible to antibiotics, before it spread to animals and then back to people. By the time it returned to humans it had picked up two souvenirs: resistance to methicillin and resistance to tetracycline - a drug often used to treat Staph infections in patients allergic to the penicillin class of antibiotics, which includes methicillin.

"Because both tetracycline and penicillins are commonly administered to food animals, the study finds that it is likely that the use of these drugs in livestock gave this Staph bacteria the exposure it needed to develop resistance to these drugs."
Click here to read the entire article.

Click here to read the TGen press release.

Click here to read the response from Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the only microbiologist in Congress and the champion of the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), which is "designed to ensure that we preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics for the treatment of human disease" and pretty much gets nowhere every year.

I will call my Congressman, Jerrold Nadler, today to find out if he supports PAMTA. It seems like everyone—except those severely influenced by corporate dollars—would support this, no?

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